by Joe Tasca on 01/24/13 at 12:00 AM ET
Despite leading the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in scoring for the first half of the AHL season, Islander prospect Nino Niederreiter wasn't invited to the team's training camp two weeks ago. Kevin Schultz suspects Isles general manager Garth Snow may not have spoken with Niederreiter about why he was snubbed, prompting the Swiss forward to request a trade:
If I’m a manager of any business, hockey or otherwise, I want to make sure my employees understand why I make difficult decisions. Especially if those decisions will impact them negatively. If I’m the manager of a hockey club and decide to leave some of the top minor league players off the training camp roster, I’m failing at my job if I don’t explain to them why. Explain that there is a plan, we’re going to take things slow, and now isn’t the right time (or whatever the reasons). That way, when the news comes down it’s not a shocker. It may not be what they want to hear, but it could likely result in a closed-door discussion instead of a trade demand and public gossip.
Schultz has a point, but here's the problem. If Snow indeed had not told Niederreiter why he wasn't being invited to training camp, all the youngster had to do was ask his agent to pose that very question to Islander management. If Niederreiter had concerns about his future with the club, the confusion could've been alleviated rather quickly by his initiating a conversation with the appropriate parties.
Instead, Niederreiter's Swiss-based agent decided to e-mail a trade request to Garth Snow. Whether Niederreiter directed his agent to do so is unknown, but it's safe to assume the young winger greatly approved of the idea. Unfortunately, it was a grossly miscalculated move. In the end, Niederreiter comes across as a spoiled 20-year-old kid pissing and moaning about being denied his rightful place in the NHL.
The fact of the matter is the Islanders have no intentions of moving Nino Niederreiter. As a fifth overall draft pick in 2010, he's clearly one of the centerpieces of the team's youth movement. And while Niederreiter has had an impressive season in the AHL thus far, by no means does that entitle him to an automatic promotion to the big leagues. At this stage of his career, Nino still has a lot to prove.
On top of that, the Islanders have a horrible history of rushing young players into the NHL. Josh Bailey, the team's first round draft pick in 2008, is the most recent example of the club's penchant for throwing their highly-touted prospects into the fire a little too soon. Garth Snow's decision not to invite Nino Niederreiter to training camp is part of an effort to reverse that trend. Snow wants to see his prized prospect dominate the AHL this season, while leading Bridgeport to a lengthy playoff run.
Most observers would agree a full season in the minors can only benefit the development of a young player, no matter how skilled. Looking at the situation from afar, it's painfully obvious why the Islanders want Nino Niederreiter to continue his torrid scoring pace down on the farm. By requesting a trade, the Niederreiter camp has stated their young prodigy deserves much better. It's a position that's downright insulting to the Bridgeport players who cracked the Isles' lineup this year, not to mention the guys who are still chasing the dream.
It may not be this season, but Nino Niederreiter will be a full-time NHL player very soon. Hopefully his time in the minors will help him mature not just as a hockey player, but as a person.
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About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.