Dallas Stars v New York Islanders

Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter sent back to his junior team

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.

Stars 2010 first round pick Jack Campbell sent back to his junior team

Thumbnail image for Campbell2.jpgWhile it’s not surprising at all it’s news that we should keep you updated on. Team USA 2010 World Junior Championships star and Dallas Stars 2010 first round pick Jack Campbell was sent back to his junior team in Windsor today.

Campbell is a guy with a lot of hope attached to him and we’ll likely see more from him at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo that starts in late December. For now, you’ll have to watch Windsor Spitfires games to see Campbell in action. Best of luck to you in doing so if you’re not living in southern Ontario or Detroit.

Report: Penguins still have no plans to send Sprong to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits

The Penguins still have no plans to send Daniel Sprong back to junior, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The newspaper cited a club official “speaking on the condition of anonymity” for that tidbit.

Of course, GM Jim Rutherford said pretty much the same thing last week, that Sprong, 18, had done enough to stick with the Pens past the nine-game mark.

The difference between now and last week is that Sprong, the youngest player in the NHL, is coming off a healthy scratching Saturday in Toronto, and he could be in the press box again tonight in Vancouver.

Sprong has played eight games in total. He has one goal and no assists, and his average ice time is 10:04.

Which is to say, he hasn’t been all that vital to his team.

Granted, what he has given the Penguins is a cap hit of just $692,500. And that’s important, because the Pens don’t have much cap space to work with.

Not to imply that Sprong is only being kept up for salary-cap reasons; however, it’s worth noting that Rutherford admitted in April that Beau Bennett was rushed into the NHL.

“We made a mistake on Beau Bennett as far as development-wise,” Rutherford said. “I’ll take the responsibility for that. When it was getting closer for him to become a waivered player, I felt we should have sent him to Wilkes-Barre and let him play a lot.”

Sprong is not eligible to go to the AHL, only back to junior, where he’s already proven he can score. So perhaps Rutherford feels Sprong has a better opportunity to grow in the NHL, even if it means playing limited minutes.

The key question, though, is whether Rutherford still believes that Sprong “can help our team.”

Based on today’s report, he still does. But until Sprong plays his 10th game, Rutherford will maintain the option to change his mind.

Related: Blame the Canadian dollar for ‘cap squeeze’

Banged-up Blues get Fabbri (concussion) back after six-game absence

Robby Fabbri, Mattias Janmark-Nylen

ST. LOUIS (AP) — In the St. Louis Blues’ first game without top forwards Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny, it took players a while to adjust.

Coach Ken Hitchcock pointed out that his players have no choice.

Stastny is out at least another month with a broken right foot and Schwartz will be re-evaluated in three months after surgery for a fractured left ankle sustained in a freak practice accident on Friday. Schwartz had 63 points last season and Stastny had 46 points, and had five points in five games this season.

A third forward, Patrik Berglund, isn’t expected back until January after shoulder surgery.

Some help is on the way. The Blues anticipate activating All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (groin) and promising rookie Robby Fabbri (concussion) in time for Tuesday night’s game against Tampa Bay. The 19-year-old Fabbri was a first-round pick in 2014 and has been a high scorer in juniors.

Still, it’s going to take a group effort to compensate for all of that lost offense.

The Blues turned up the intensity across the board on Saturday, erasing a two-goal third-period deficit before losing 3-2 in overtime to the Islanders. They outshot New York 15-2 in the third.

“I think we’re going to have to get a little creative with what we do with our roster, and we’re going to have to get more from certain people,” Hitchcock said. “But if we keep up with our work ethic, we keep our spirit up, we’re going to get through this thing and hopefully come out better.”

The malaise was evident at the start of the Islanders game when the Blues won just 5 of 15 of face-offs in the first period. Hitchcock noted a lack of aggressive checking.

“We weren’t sharp off the bat,” goalie Brian Elliott said. “We did a great job just kind of settling down and kind of taking over the game.”

The bottom line is that they salvaged something, and that’s important right now.

“To lose in overtime is a disappointment but you have to be happy with the one point and kind of move on from it and learn from that start,” Elliott said. “We had a lot of good things so you can’t hang your head too much.”

Besides Shattenkirk and Fabbri, the Blues will lean heavier on young Dmitrij Jaskin. They can give increased roles to veterans Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall, too. Both made the team as tryouts.

“We’ve got to manufacture points, we’ve got to manufacture goals,” Hitchcock said. “It’s not going to come as smooth and as easy as it once did.”

Upshall was supposed to be in the lineup Saturday but became ill about an hour before game-time.

“We know we’re anticipating that Shattenkirk and Fabbri will be back in on Tuesday,” Hitchcock said. “I’m sure Upshall will be back in, so we’re going to get a little bit of stability.”

Rookie defenseman Colton Parayko has stepped in from the start, showing a knack for offense along with solid play on the back line. He had a goal and assist in the Saturday surge. The Blues can always lean on strong net-minding with Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties.

“It’s just about guys stepping up and filling roles,” Elliott said. “We lost some big-time players and now it’s opportunities.”

Ducks send Shea Theodore back to AHL

Shea Theodore

Shea Theodore’s NHL debut will have to wait. The 20-year-old defenseman was returned to AHL San Diego today by the Anaheim Ducks.

Theodore was called up Saturday, along with defenseman Korbinian Holzer, when d-men Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner were placed on injured reserve.

Holzer remains on the NHL roster after dressing in the Ducks’ 4-1 win over Minnesota on Sunday.

Anaheim doesn’t play again until Thursday in Nashville. No word if Despres or Stoner are close to returning.

Theodore was drafted 26th overall in 2013. He was a prolific scorer during his time in junior with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and is just now getting his feet wet as a pro.