Yesterday we looked over the case of whether or not Islanders 2010 draft pick Nino Niederreiter should stay with the Isles this season or head back to his junior team in the WHL, the Portland Winterhawks. Today, Isles GM Garth Snow and head coach Scott Gordon made the decision on what to do. It turns out that the Isles are going to send Niederreiter back to junior hockey and let him develop there. For what Niederreiter was going to bring to the team if he stayed, Gordon spoke plainly.
“I think he could have success not being on the power play and being in a third line situation,” said Islanders head coach Scott Gordon. “He could work his way into that role, but we already have guys that are playing on the power play that have been successful. It’s not like we’re in a situation where you have a struggling power play and you need someone with some offensive abilities to add to the power play.”
Forcing a talented offensive player into a different role is the sort of thing that can jumble his development. Adding to the Isles mix is the eventual return of Rob Schremp and Kyle Okposo to the lineup. Their return would force Niederreiter down the depth chart and into an even more grinder-like role and less time on the ice. The keys the Islanders had when bringing Josh Bailey and John Tavares is that they had the opportunity to be top line players immediately. For Niederreiter, it’s not that simple and the Islanders do have the depth on the wings to not need Niederreiter right now.
Niederreiter will get his chance next year as you have to think that after a year of dominating the WHL and getting tons of playing time there, he’ll be ready to kick things into high gear next season for the Islanders. That’s something to be excited about on the Island should the Islanders hot start not hold up through the season.