Nino Niederreiter Is the Next Islanders Star

Christopher Benini@@TheRealCBeniniContributor IDecember 13, 2012

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 29:  Nino Niederreiter #25 of the New York Islanders looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 29, 2012 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders won 5-3.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

If you look at Nino Niederreiter's stats in the NHL during the 2011-12 season you have to be thinking that this is some sort of cruel joke. The man had one goal and one assist in 55 games to go with a -29 plus/minus rating.

Niederreiter was billed as being the next New York Islanders star when he was drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft. While several have already labeled the man known as "El Nino" as a bust, we quickly forget that he is just 20 years old.

Many criticized the Islanders for their use of Nino Niederreiter, saying that he could have used a year of seasoning in the American Hockey League (AHL). Against the critics, the Islanders skated him on their fourth line the majority of the year and Niederreiter struggled.

With the latest NHL lockout, the Isles have been forced to send Niederreiter to the AHL and his star is quickly beginning to shine. He ranks ninth in the league in points with 25 and 10th in the league in goals with 12.

If he continues at this torrid pace, the Islanders will have to give him a shot on one of their better scoring lines, rather than letting him rot away on the fourth line.

I've been driving the Nino Niederreiter bandwagon for awhile and while the load has become a lot lighter, it is still going strong. Hop on aboard before it's too late.

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