Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

What can we expect from El Nino this year?

Nino Niederreiter, an 18 year old winger with unlimited potential hopes to play full-time this year for the NY Islanders after spending 2 seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.  Drafted 5th overall in the 2010 entry draft, he was the highest Swiss player ever taken in the NHL entry draft and only the fourth Swiss player to ever be drafted in the first round.

Niederreiter is just another young budding star for the Islanders.  After leading the Winterhawks in goals with 36 in his rookie season, he scored 70 points in 55 games-41G and 29A last season.  Nino was called up last October, mainly because of injuries to some key Islanders, and appeared in only nine games.  In those nine games, Niederreiter recorded 2 points-1 goal and 1 assist.

Nino has huge potential, not only as a finesse winger with innate scoring ability and great hands around the net, but also as a two-way player who can get physical with opponents when he needs to.  In his brief stint in the NHL last year, Nino showed that, even at age 18, he is not afraid to chase the puck around and bang with the big boys (8 PIM in 9 games).  He has said that GM Garth Snow hasn’t said anything to him about whether or not he will be in the NHL to start the season, but barring an unforeseen circumstance, “El Nino” will be with the Islanders all season.

Nino carries with him the pressure that the 5th overall pick brings with it, but playing for the Isles this year with others in the spotlight should give him time to develop, learn from his teammates, and be poised for a breakout year in the 2012-2013 season.

Physically, Nino is way beyond what his 18 years of age would indicate.  At 6’2”, 205 pounds, he is certainly physically ready to play full-time in the NHL.  Having said that, he still can put on a few additional pounds in the weight room.  The Isles shouldn’t push him to gain too much weight though, because we certainly don’t want that to take away from his skating ability and speed.

Nino should be a huge fan favorite-the type of player who will establish position in front of the net, but also one who knows how to light the lamp.  He plays with the kind of intensity that fans love and has a no holds barred style.

Nino has his first NHL points out of the way, has the initial jitters out of the way and can just go out on the ice, give 110% and just play.  I believe that, if in the NHL for the whole season, Niederreiter could realistically contend for the Calder trophy this year.  With more experienced players in the lineup who will be carrying a bigger load, Nino won’t have to be directly in the spotlight and will have others to rely on-at least early in the season.  I don’t think it is too far of a stretch to think that Nino will net at least 20 goals this season.

If he is with the Islanders for all or at least most of the regular season, the following are my 2011-2012 season predictions: G: 25, A: 20, Points: 45.  If my prediction holds true and Nino scores 45 points in his rookie campaign, the Isles fans will be giddy about what is to come from him in the future.

Nino may have been rushed to the NHL a little too quickly last season, but the Islanders had nothing to lose and it was good for him to get his feet wet in the nine games he played. Nino has drawn a lot of comparisons to current NHLers in scouting reports and blogs.  I tend to compare him to Marian Hossa, but I think Niederreiter will be a better defensive forward than Hossa.

Having said all of that, we must remember that he is still only 18.  The future looks bright for Nino and his career with the Islanders.  It is going to be great seeing #25 playing for the Islanders for many years to come.  When will we start seeing more #25 jerseys in the stands at the Coliseum?

Time will tell, but I know one thing-I can’t wait.

Follow me on twitter @TheIsleInformer

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Islanders, William Morrison, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nino+niederreiter



The top 9 looks relatively set doesn’t it? Where does Nino fit in?  He’s not getting 20 goals playing 4th line minutes

Posted by Aron on 08/11/11 at 02:57 PM ET


I think he could fit in well on the 3rd line with Bailey and Comeau.

Posted by William Morrison on 08/11/11 at 03:06 PM ET


Assuming of course that Bailey doesn’t get traded soon.

Posted by William Morrison on 08/11/11 at 03:11 PM ET


8 goals and 14 points in 13 games for Team Switzerland through two World Junior Tournies.. I think this article (which is more than optimistic) may even be underestimating him. Bottom line, the kid loves to go to the net. I see him challenging for minutes with Tavares.. if not then one injury will have him in the top six.

Posted by ArtursIrbesGoaliePads on 08/11/11 at 04:33 PM ET

squirrely's avatar

Where’s Baily going?

Posted by squirrely from Dirty Jersey on 08/11/11 at 04:42 PM ET


I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Nino over the past two seasons here in Portland. Whether he comes your way this season or next, I can assure you that behind the great player is a great person who is worth the wait. He’s the proprietor of choice soundbites (“I shoot the puck, the puck go in!”), he loves chocolate (but of course) and although he’s humble about it, I can see from talking to him how much he wants to make the Islanders’ roster. As I’ve said many times before; take great care with our prize, New York. Nino is one of a kind and all we ask is that you treat him as we have: with great care, admiration and respect. I can see from this post that you will. I’ll stay tuned for future posts about one of Portland’s most prized draft possessions.

Posted by Samantha from Portland, Oregon on 08/11/11 at 06:43 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Bottom line, the kid loves to go to the net. I see him challenging for minutes with Tavares.. if not then one injury will have him in the top six.

Posted by ArtursIrbesGoaliePads on 08/11/11 at 02:33 PM ET

Going to the net is going to be infinitely harder for him in the NHL though.  He better be ready to fight to get there.

Posted by Primis on 08/12/11 at 01:48 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

I selfishly hope that he stays in the juniors one more year.  He’s a fun guy to watch play with the Winterhawks.  I’m sure Samantha’s with me on that one.  smile

Posted by Hippy Dave from Somewhere West of Detroit on 08/12/11 at 05:42 PM ET


IrbesGoaliePads: He is physically ready to battle in the NHL.  I know the WHL isn’t the same, but he has constantly shown with the Winterhawks that he likes to do the dirty work necessary to play in front of the net.

Samantha and Hippy Dave:  I can’t wait to interact with him when he comes to NY.  It sounds like his sound bytes are somewhat Datsyukian.  If that is the case, he’s going to be great.  Your loss will be our gain.  Sounds like you guys love him in Portland!

Posted by William Morrison on 08/14/11 at 04:30 PM ET


If Portland fans had our way, we’d probably keep Nino forever. But the only thing more exciting than watching him here will be watching him become a part of the Islanders. I can’t wait to hear about your interactions with him, as I’m sure they will be the source of some truly original quotes.

Posted by Samantha from Portland, Oregon on 08/15/11 at 03:18 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com