Tonight will mark one of the biggest opportunities of Nino Niederreiter’s young career.
Niederreiter, the 21-year old taken fifth overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, will get a shot at first-line minutes tonight against the Jets, playing on Minnesota’s top unit alongside captain Mikko Koivu and alternate Zach Parise.
“Nino has played very well through three games,” Wild head coach Mike Yeo told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “He’s a guy that should be able to factor in on that top line and have a positive impact.”
The numbers for Niederreiter through two games are solid. He has two assists and nine shots while averaging 14:38 TOI, but also has a minus-2 rating.
What he figures to bring to the top line, though, is a physical presence. “El Nino” is listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and is second among all Wild skaters in hits thus far, trailing only Matt Cooke.
The move will reshuffle Minnesota’s second line, which should feature Dany Heatley playing alongside Jason Pominville. Yeo said the goal of this move was an opportunity for Heatley “to go out with a guy [Pominville] that’s first off a very smart player, but [also] one that’s always motivating.”
Heatley is scoreless through three games this season, and has just seven shots on goal.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.