Last night was Nino Niederreiter’s ninth game of the season. After playing one more game in the NHL his entry level contract will kick in for the full season.
He’s totaled one goal and one assist with a plus/minus of -1 in those nine games. El Nino, as most fans call him, needs to work on a few parts of his game, primarily his physical presence, and bulk up a bit more to fill his big frame.
Last night’s game proved this; he was easily taken off the puck by Montreal Canadiens rookie P.K. Subban on a few occasions. Subban had played a full season last year in the AHL to prepare himself against others that are bigger and stronger in the professional game.
It was well used by P.K. who led the league in goals by a defenseman and was third in total points. He then used that experience to be a big part of the Canadiens' run in the post-season and has continued his strong play this year into his rookie season.
Yes, you could say there isn’t anyone else who might be as talented for the Islanders to be playing in a top six role on the team, but Nino might only currently be playing on the team cause of the many Islanders with injuries (Kyle Okposo, Trent Hunter, Michael Grabner and Robbie Schremp). Two of those players are only day to day, meaning they’ll be ready to play soon.
Niederreiter was just drafted this past June, as the fifth overall pick, and much is expected of him. He needs to be gradually developed and a year in the WHL would progress that properly.
Player development will be vital for both Nino and the Islanders as they look towards the future. Currently they seem to be on the right path, and aren’t too far for putting the right pieces of the puzzle together, but one of those pieces includes Nino playing at an all-star level.
El Nino will become a talented offensive player in the NHL. If he progresses properly he could become an all-star and a great Islander for many years.