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Isles prospect Niederreiter frustrated not getting a shot to make the team

Jan 29, 2013, 12:35 PM EDT

Nino Niederreiter Getty Images

PROVIDENCE, RI — Nino Niederreiter’s season in the AHL has been a great one. He’s top-three in the league in goals with 19 and 12th in the league in points. That sort of production made it a surprise when the Islanders didn’t invite him to training camp and made it almost no surprise he asked to be traded.

At the AHL All-Star Game in Providence, Niederreiter, 20, talked about his awkward situation with the Islanders. When I asked if not getting an invite to training camp after putting up such big numbers in the AHL was what frustrated him most, he opened up about it.

“It was really frustrating,” Niederreiter said. “I had a really tough season last year. I wasn’t playing much, I played low minutes and obviously it wasn’t the game I wanted to play. I still learned a lot, I was really happy to have that chance to play a full season in the NHL already.

“This summer I was working hard and I was trying to prepare myself for the next chance and it was frustrating I didn’t get the chance but that’s out of my control.”

Last season, Niederreiter played in 55 games with the Isles and scored just one goal and no assists while putting up an incredible -29 plus-minus while averaging just over 10 minutes of ice time per game. Comparing that with what he’s done in the AHL so far would seem to indicate major improvement and a leading reason why the Isles don’t want to deal him.

When it comes to things being out of his control, you can put “what his agent says to Swiss newspapers” in that category as well. After an interview surfaced with his agent telling a Swiss outlet that the trade request was his idea, Niederreiter made it clear he’s controlling what he can do himself.

“I’m trying to focus on what I can control and what I can control is on the ice. The rest I leave for my agent. Whatever he think is best for me he should just do that.”

With injuries and poor play from others being likely through the rest of the NHL season, it’s possible Niederreiter will get his chance to show how much he’s improved. From the way he spoke about the situation, he’s eager to prove what he’s all about on the biggest stage.

  1. hockeywithdrawal - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    55 games. 1 goal. 0 assists. -29 +/-.

    They obviously felt they were rushing him and since it’s a shortened season anyway, why push it. He’ll be back this fall. I think I’m siding with the Isles on this one.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      He played on the 4th line getting no minutes.

      • kkmcgovern - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        and still was -29… this guy was awful last year on the Islanders… just b/c you’re having a good year in the AHL, doesn’t mean last year didn’t happen.

        He’s 20 years old, got a shot with the big boys and proved he did not belong. Take the full year in the AHL… if you keep tearing it up, maybe you’ll get a shot this year/injuries happen. But you are going to come out and speak up after 2 NHL games? Grow up, be mature about it, and wait your turn.

        – 29… – 29…. averaged under 10 min of ice time a game.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:44 PM

        He was on the garbage line of the laughing-stock team of the league. What would you expect him to put up?

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Can you blame him? He’s looking around at a bunch of rookies and guys his age getting kept by their NHL teams while he didn’t even get a shot. All things considered he’s actually being pretty diplomatic about it.

    • jl9830 - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      Yes I can blame him. He’s 20 years old. Older and better prospects like Brendan Smith haven’t complained about playing in the AHL; neither should Nino. He should pipe down and earn an NHL spot.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        Brendan Smith is in a completely different position on a team with completely different expectations.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 29, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        He’s not complaining about being in the AHL, he’s frustrated that he didn’t even get the chance to make his NHL squad. How exactly is a skilled player supposed to earn a spot on an NHL team when he’s played for less than a full season on the fourth line and then doesn’t get an invite to training camp?

  3. ferrantej - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Considering that the last good personnel decision this team made was probably the trade for Butch Goring, I have to side with the kid on this one.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      No way man – they got rid of Milbury in 2006, that was way after Goring.

    • bcisleman - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:39 PM

      Forget draft picks…lets just look at the acquisitions Garth Snow has made: Mark Streit, Matt Moulson, PA Parenteau, Michael Grabner, Evgenyi Nabokov and now Keith Aucoin. He’s made plenty of great moves that other GMs wish they had made.

  4. killerpgh - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Snow is trying to right a wrong he made last year. Nino should have never been in the NHL last year, but the Islanders needed his salary to help reach the salary cap floor. Both parties would have been better if Niño was in juniors last year. Niño wouldn’t have been set up for failure and the Islanders would have used the 1st year of his entry level contract until this season. Successful organizations don’t force prospects through the system and this is Snow’s fault. But until the Islanders are able to attract quality free agent that trend might continue. With a sure future now that Brooklyn is official and the young talent hopefully attracting free agents should become easier.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Good points.

    • bcisleman - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      Last year was not as black and white as you suggest. Nino had a great camp and looked ready. He also seemed to have outgrown juniors. Doubt staying there would have helped him. But for his age and the rules, he’d have been better off in Bridgeport with maybe the odd callup due to injury. BTW, its a myth that Nino was kept due to needing cap hit. Count up the hits. They were well over the floor without him.

  5. gbostic22 - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Nino you are 20 yrs old and coming off one of the worst rookie seasons ever!

    Stop acting like half a strong AHL season, entitles you to a Islander roster spot.

  6. bcisleman - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    Truly AWFUL article, Joe. “With injuries and poor play from others being likely through the rest of the NHL season…” Really, Joe? Injuries can happen to any team but there is no indication that any of the top six are playing poorly. Grabs, in particular, is making last season look like a total aberration. With Bails and Jesse soon likely to come off IR, Nino shouldn’t hold his breath waiting for a callup.

    Last year should have made Nino a little more willing to be patient and wait his turn. Between his agent and articles like this, he is unlikely to develop the kind of humility he needs to be an effective teammate in the NHL. He should follow teammate Travis Hamonic’s dictum: “Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut.” and just play his way onto the roster.

    • Joe Yerdon - Jan 29, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      What’s awful? You think he’s not going to get a call-up if there’s injuries? You think the Isles are going to stay status quo all year? We’re not even 10 games into the season.

      Joensuu is gone for a while so… Yeah.

      Since Nino was the one guy there for me to talk to (not his agents, nor the Isles) I got his take on the situation and frankly, he’s handling it pretty well. But hey, if you want to bury a kid and keep the Isles glasses on, be my guest.

      • bcisleman - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        Sure he’ll get a callup if there are injuries—and maybe if McDonald has to sit for the Lovejoy major–but you had to throw in the bit about poor play. What poor play have you seen from Isle forwards this year? Maybe, just maybe there’s a reason why he hasn’t been called up.

        The article is awful because YOU seem to share the agent’s (and presumably Nino’s) POV that Snow doesn’t know what he’s doing keeping Nino in Bridgeport. I have followed Nino since early in his draft year a full nine months before he even became an Islander prospect. It was one of my better days when Garth announced Nino as the Isles’ first pick in 2010. No fan certainly wants Nino to succeed more than I do but he needs to grow up a little and tell his agent to put a lid on it. Articles like this do not help Nino IMHO.

      • Joe Yerdon - Jan 30, 2013 at 3:49 AM

        Every team is going to have players that aren’t going to perform well. You seem to think I’m picking on the Islanders. But please, continue to try (and fail) to read my mind.

      • bcisleman - Jan 30, 2013 at 11:28 PM

        Sorry, Joe, but the tone of your article suggests that the Isles do not know what they are doing…which isn’t exactly unusual in the hockey MSM. Fact is the veterans Garth has put at F are rewarding his confidence in them by playing very well.

        Last year clearly demonstrated that Nino needs more seasoning before he can claim a roster spot and the 48 game schedule isn’t conducive to experimenting for 5 games. Garth is open to calling him up and may do so now that McDonald has been suspended. Nino simply needs to wait for his chances and make the most of them. His agent’s comments and articles like this one do not help him at all.

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