- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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Rookie forward Nino Niederreiter was scratched for the third straight game Friday in the Islanders 1-0 shutout loss to the Devils, leaving many to wonder what his future holds.
The 19-year-old Swiss winger is not old enough to play in the American Hockey League which means the Islanders have two choices: Either send him back to his junior team -- the Portland WinterHawks of the WHL -- or keep him up for the remainder of the season.
If the team sends him back to Portland before he hits the ten-game threshold -- he has already played three games -- this season won't count as a year of eligibility on his three-year entry-level deal inked last September.
But apparently that is not in the team's plans. When asked if he's considering this option, general manager Garth Snow told ESPNNewYork.com "no" via text message.
So why then would you sit the young prospect and risk hurting his development?
The only logical explanation would seem to be if Niederreiter was still ailing from the preseason groin injury that sidelined him for the first 14 games of the season.
However, Snow confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that Niederreiter was indeed a "healthy scratch" Friday against the Devils.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano originally sat Niederreiter Monday against Pittsburgh to "catch his breath;" with the former fifth overall pick (2010) coming off six games in nine nights.
But Niederreiter has since had plenty of time to rest and re-charge and Capuano doesn't have much to lose with shaking up the lineup once again.
Suffering their sixth shutout loss of the season, the Islanders have dropped 14 of their last 16 games and last four straight. Of those four, three have been shutouts.
60dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald