Islanders’ William Dufour a bright spot in preseason loss to Devils

The futures of William Dufour and Aatu Räty on Long Island are very much that — in the future. Neither of the Islanders’ top two prospects is likely to earn a spot with the NHL club out of training camp, but there was a brief glimpse of what that future could bring on Tuesday night.

At 8:04 in the first period on a night that late went south for the Islanders, Dufour spotted Nikita Soshnikov well up the ice and let loose a perfect pass to the Russian. Soshnikov proceeded to go top shelf on Vitek Vanecek.

The Islanders went on to lose to the Devils 4-1 in a game in which very few things looked good. But that play stood out.

“I’ve waited for that for two years, two and a half years,” Dufour said. “So it’s just nice to play my first NHL game.”

Dufour, who skated with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin, finished the night with one shot in 14:31 of ice time.

“He’s a big body that moves really well,” Cizikas said of Dufour ahead of the match at Prudential Center in Newark. “He has a good shot. He proved that in junior and he’s gonna do that here tonight. Marty and I, we’re gonna help him out there. We’re gonna tell him play your game, do the things you’re capable of.”

William Dufour
Islanders prospect William Dufour showed plenty of promise against the Devils.
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The assignment with two members of the Identity Line is intriguing for a player whose calling card at the junior level was scoring. The 6-foot-3 Dufour racked up 56 goals and 60 assists with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs last year, but the traditional role of the Cizikas line is to grind, play physical and get on the forecheck. Coach Lane Lambert said it was too early to say whether that will be Dufour’s eventual game at the NHL level.

“He played well,” Lambert said. “He made a great pass on the first goal. I thought he moved pretty well, used his body and he made some plays.”

Following two straight 4-1 losses to open the preseason, Lambert admitted the Islanders have a long way to go.

“We’ve got work to do,” he said. “There’s no question about it.”

Ilya Sorokin stopped nine of 12 shots before Cory Schneider took over in net during the second period.

Otto Koivula and Collin Adams skated on their own Tuesday. Samuel Bolduc and Isaiah George continued to be held out of activities.