Barring an injury, the Minnesota Wild can reasonably count on big offensive contributions from Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu in 2013-14. The bigger question is what they should expect from their younger forwards and among them, perhaps the biggest X-factor is 20-year-old Nino Niederreiter.
Niederreiter was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, but despite his offensive upside and success in the AHL, he wasn’t able to secure a top-six spot with the Islanders and in the end, they traded him to Minnesota over the summer.
“I’m very excited to get a new start and a new opportunity,” Niederreiter told the Wild’s website. “Scoring goals and making the right play in the right situation, that’s kind of my game. I’m a power forward and I’m going to bring that to the table.”
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher thinks that Niederreiter should be able to contribute at the NHL level in the “near future.”
It’s reasonable to assume that Niederreiter will be given a fair chance to win a roster spot with the Wild during training camp. That spot is far from secure, but it helps that Wild coach Mike Yeo already seems very upbeat about Niederreiter.
“I know things didn’t go right for him [with the Islanders], but you can see a lot of things that get you excited as a coach,” Yeo said. “His size, his skating ability, his puck strength and puck-moving ability … I think he’s a guy that’s going to help us play the type of game that we want to play.”