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.

Motzko to defend gold as U.S. World Juniors coach

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That was the message from USA Hockey on Friday, in announcing that Bob Motzko would return as head coach of the U.S. World Junior team in 2018.

Motzko, the head coach at St. Cloud State, comes back for another kick at the can after winning it all last year, capping things off with a thrilling shootout victory over Canada in the gold medal final.

It was the United States’ first tournament win in four years.

“It’s terrific to have this staff return with Bob at the helm,” USA Hockey’s Jim Johannson said, in a release. “We’re looking forward to having the tournament on our home soil and it will be a real benefit to have an experienced coaching staff lead us in our quest to repeat last year’s gold-medal performance.”

Behind the bench, Motzko will be joined by the entire 2017 U.S. coaching staff in assistant coaches Greg Brown, Grant Potulny, Kris Mayotte and Steve Miller.

The ’18 Juniors begin on Dec. 26 in Buffalo, NY. This year’s tournament will be extra special, as the U.S. and Canada will play an outdoor game on Dec. 29 from New Era Field.

UMass-Lowell junior Smith leaves school, signs with Buffalo

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C.J. Smith, the UMass-Lowell forward that finished eighth in the country in goalscoring (23) this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Sabres, the club announced on Thursday.

Smith, 22, is coming off an impressive 51-point junior campaign for the River Hawks, which he punctuated with MVP honors in the Hockey East tournament.

According to the Buffalo News, Smith will get a crack at some NHL action this year and suit up in the Sabres’ final five games of the season.

It’s been a busy 48 hours of departures for UMass-Lowell. Walter Brown Award winner Joseph Gambardella, a senior that served as alternate captain this year, inked with Edmonton yesterday while defenseman Michael Kapla signed with the Devils.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.