New York Islanders Blue v White Game

Niederreiter continues to impress, but won’t start season with Isles


Nino Niederreiter has been tearing it up in the AHL and stood out during recent a scrimmage at Islanders training camp.

But none of that will change his NHL fortunes, apparently.

GM Garth Snow already stated “El Nino” won’t be with the Isles when they open against the Devils on Saturday — even though Niederreiter leads Bridgeport in scoring, sits sixth in the AHL in points (36) and was one of the best players on the ice during Wednesday’s scrimmage.

Though disappointed, the 20-year-old Swiss product is taking it in stride.

“I’ve learned that there are things you cannot control and you can’t worry about those,” Niederreiter told Newsday. “I promised myself I wouldn’t get frustrated about those things this year. All I can control is what I do on the ice.”

Niederreiter biggest highlight of the scrimmage was when he used his size to muscle past Matt Carkner and roof his own rebound past Evgeni Nabokov.

At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Niederreiter has the size to become the type of power forward the Isles haven’t had in years.

“He’s doing all the right things,” coach Jack Capuano said. “Garth’s got a plan for him, on track for his development. He played hard, scored a good goal, went to the net — he’s right on track.”

It’s understandable why the Isles would want to bring Niederreiter along slowly. They’ve been burned in the past by rushing prospects (see: Bailey, Josh) and saw how much Niederreiter struggled last year, scoring just one goal in 55 games.

He says playing in the AHL has been good for him.

“My confidence is back,” he explained. “It was great playing in the AHL to start the season, and I’m going to focus on that.”

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.