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

20 Comments

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.

Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

Getty
Leave a comment

The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

Getty
Leave a comment

The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

Getty
1 Comment

The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season

Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

Getty
1 Comment

Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.