New York Hockey: Nino Niederreiter

Isles draft Pulock, trade Niederreiter

June, 30, 2013
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NEWARK, N.J. -- Following the Islanders' big news of the day -- a trade that sent Nino Niederreiter to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Cal Clutterbuck -- the team used the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft to select defenseman Ryan Pulock from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey league.

Pulock (6-0, 210), who finished with 14 goals and 45 points in 61 games for the Wheat Kings, is known for his bomb of a shot.

[+] EnlargeGarth Snow, Ryan Pulock and Doug Weight.
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesIsles GM Garth Snow and assistant Doug Weight welcome Ryan Pulock (center) to the NHL.
"That's his biggest asset," a scout told ESPNNewYork.com after the selection. "He's got great character, but still needs some time to develop."

Pulock, 18, who hails from Grandview, Manitoba, said his shot has served him well through his junior career, something he hopes can continue at the professional level.

"Especially on the power-play, whether I can get a shot away or take a guy that's focused on me and open up other areas on the ice, I think the more I use the shot the more effective it is and it's something that can really help me," he said.

Pulock said he emulates the game of Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and tries to contribute on both ends of the ice.

The newest Islander has also shown grace in handling adversity over the past few years following the death of his younger brother, Brock, in a car accident in March 2010. Pulock said his little brother was one of the first things on his mind when his name was announced Sunday afternoon.

For a great read on Pulock from Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gary Lawless, click here.

And for a breakdown of the entire Islanders draft day, here's a brief summary of their haul via team release:

The seven selections included three forwards, two defenseman and two goaltenders. After drafting defenseman Ryan Pulock with the 15th overall pick, the Islanders did not select again until picks 70 and 76 in the third round.

With the 70th pick, the club selected goaltender Eamon McAdam. A 6’2, 185-pound netminder from Doylestown, PA, McAdam appeared in 31 games this past season with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League. He posted a 17-9-3 record with a 3.45 goals-against average (GAA) and .896 save percentage (SV%).

Six picks later, the Islanders selected McAdam’s teammate, Waterloo forward Taylor Cammarata. The Minneapolis, MN, native led the Blackhawks in scoring with 93 points (38 goals, 55 assists) in 59 USHL games this past season.

The Islanders added their second goaltender of the 2013 Draft in the fourth round, selecting Minnesota State-Mankato’s Stephon Williams with the 106th overall pick. A 6’1, 194-pound netminder from Fairbanks, AK, Williams posted a 21-12-2 record with a 2.00 GAA and .924 SV% in 35 games this past season with the Mavericks.

In the fifth round, 136th overall, the Islanders selected forward Viktor Crus Rydberg. A 5’11, 190-pouind forward from Voxjo, Sweden. Rydberg scored 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 35 games this past season with Linkoping’s Under-20 club in Sweden’s junior league.

Forward Alan Quine was then taken in the sixth round, 166th overall. A 5’11, 178-pound center from Belleville, ON, Quine scored 67 points (23 goals, 44 assists) in 74 games this past season with both the Peterborough Petes and Bellevile Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League.

With their final pick in the Draft, the Islanders selected defenseman Kyle Burroughs in the seventh round, 196th overall. Burroughs, a 5’11, 182-pound rearguard from Vancouver, BC, recorded 33 points (five goals, 28 assists) in 70 Western Hockey League games this past season with the Regina Pats.

Pulock, a native of Dauphin, Manitoba, scored 45 points (14 goals, 31 assists) in 61 games this past season with the Brandon Wheat Kings in his third Western Hockey League campaign. The 6’0, 211-pound defenseman served as team captain as an 18-year-old.

Isles recall eight

April, 28, 2013
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The Islanders are still waiting on Sunday night's game between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators to learn their first-round opponent, but the team recalled eight players on Sunday in advance of this week's action.

Among the list of players summoned from the minors?

Top prospects Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson.

Rounding out the group of eight players who will form a taxi squad for the Isles are forwards John Persson and Johan Sundstrom; defensemen Matt Donovan, Aaron Ness and Calvin de Haan; and goaltender Anders Nilsson.

Conspicuously absent from the list?

Former first-round pick Nino Niederreiter, who asked for a trade from the Islanders earlier this season, and goaltender Rick DiPietro, who was waived by the team and sent to the minors.

Niederreiter will play for Switzerland during this year's World Championships.

Niederreiter recalled, set to make season debut

November, 14, 2011
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The Islanders officially recalled Nino Niederreiter Monday from his conditioning stint in Bridgeport. The 19-year-old forward, taken fifth overall by the Islanders in the 2010 draft, will make his season debut Tuesday against the Rangers.

Niederreiter, who remained with the club for the for the first nine games last season before being sent back to his junior team, was expected to crack the team's roster out of training camp this September but was sidelined with a groin injury.

The Swiss winger began the season on injured reserve and was sent to the team's minor-league affiliate November 1 on a conditioning assignment; he finished with three goals and one assist in six games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Losers in nine of the last ten games (1-6-3), the Islanders hope to inject some life into their lineup and jump-start their struggling offense with the addition of Niederreiter.



Devils drop in NHL prospect rankings

November, 10, 2011
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Former NHL scout and current ESPN Insider draft guru Grant Sonier released his latest NHL organizational rankings today, a rating in which he evaluates the quality and depth of the prospects within each team's system. It's the first update from 2011-12 after the rookie picture has gained a little clarity and ... let's just say the Devils took a bit of a dip.

New Jersey dropped from No. 16 in the first edition of the rankings to No. 27 Thursday, one of the biggest falls on the list. Only the Philadelphia Flyers fell farther (No. 15 to No. 29).

Before fans start flipping out, the rationale for the slide seems to stem from the solid play of D Adam Larsson, a player who instantly became the team's top prospect when he was selected No. 4 overall in June's draft. With Larsson in the big leagues, it's left the rest of the New Jersey system a little barren of top tier talent.

Sonier makes this point in his entry for the Colorado Avalanche, who also slipped a ways, but I think it applies to the Devils' situation as well:



"Dropping ... would seem like a bad thing, but look at it this way. Would you rather drop because a prospect has proven himself in the NHL? Or would you rather rank higher with doubts still swirling about how good your past draft picks can be? I'd take the bird in hand."


Sonier also writes that the Devils do have a few prospects to keep an eye on:

"Jon Merrill (38th overall, 2010) is in his sophomore season at the University of Michigan of the CCHA and has time to grow into his 6-3 frame while goaltender Scott Wedgewood (84th overall, 2010) is playing on a very strong Plymouth Whalers team in the OHL and some have suggested he should get a tryout for the World Juniors with Team Canada."


Meanwhile, the Islanders fell slightly from No. 7 to No. 11 following the promotion of Nino Niederreiter, and the Rangers moved up two pegs to No. 15 thanks to the strong performances of Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Christian Thomas for their respective teams.

Training camp preview: Islanders

September, 16, 2011
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The Islanders missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season and endured a tumultuous year that included a 13-game winless streak, a head coaching change and several debilitating injuries. They're hoping they can stay healthy and turn things around.

Main storylines

1. Goaltending: A franchise record-setting six different goaltenders made starts for the Islanders last season and the nets are already crowded this year. Injury-prone Rick DiPietro will have every chance to succeed -- after all, he's signed through 2021 -- but he'll be pushed by last year's surprise starter, Al Montoya, and promising up-and-comer Kevin Poulin. And now the Islanders can add Evgeni Nabokov to the mix. The 36-year-old veteran, who was claimed by the Islanders last January and refused to report, has by far the most experience of the four goalies expected to compete for the job. But the former Vezina Trophy finalist, who spent part of last season in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, hasn't played in the NHL since the May 2010. Strong, consistent goaltending will be vital to the team's success and they already have an interesting battle brewing.

2. Can they stay healthy? For the third time in four years, the Islanders led the league in man-games lost, including two devastating injuries that occurred before the puck even dropped on a preseason game. Two of the team's most valuable players -- defenseman Mark Streit and forward Kyle Okposo -- suffered significant shoulder injuries during intrasquad scrimmages. And those were just a harbinger of things to come -- the team also lost defensemen Mike Mottau, Mark Eaton, Andrew MacDonald and goaltenders DiPietro and Poulin for significant chunks of time. No team has the depth to withstand the injuries the Islanders sustained last season; they hope they aren't faced with a similar situation again.

3. El Nino: Former first-round pick Nino Niederreiter stuck around for nine games with the Islanders last season before they sent him back to his junior team, but the Swiss winger will have a much better shot at cracking the lineup this year. After dominating at the junior level (41 goals, 70 points) and honing his game, the chippy forward has a good chance to make the team. The Islanders envision him as their first-line right wing of the future, but will evaluate whether he is prepared to handle the rigors of the NHL game now.

New additions

C Marty Reasoner: The 34-year-old will replace fan favorite Zenon Konopka as the team's gritty fourth-line center, but he'll be expected to contribute offensively as well. Reasoner finished last season with 14 goals and 18 assist for the Florida Panthers.

LW Brian Rolston: Acquired from the Devils in a trade that shipped Trent Hunter to New Jersey, Rolston, 38, provides the Islanders with a strong veteran presence inside the room as well as a powerful shot from the point.

G Evgeni Nabokov: Although the Islanders owned his rights after claiming him off waivers in January, Nabokov refused to report and was subsequently suspended. With a lengthy layoff from hockey to rethink his situation, the long-time Shark appears to have a different attitude about playing for the Islanders. If he wants to get back into the NHL, his journey will have to take him through Long Island whether he likes it or not.

Wild card

At 18, the Islanders' 2011 first-round draftee, Ryan Strome, doesn't appear physically ready to play in the NHL, but the Islanders will keep an eye on the skilled center to see what they have in this year's fifth overall pick.

Bottom line

The time is now for the Islanders to shed the rebuilding phase and take the next step. They have enough young talent to become a playoff team, but will need to count on good health and consistent goaltending to make that happen.

Tavares flirting with 30?

August, 26, 2011
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I’ll level with you: I’m pretty excited to see the Islanders get to training camp.

Most of it is professional curiosity. Of all three NY-area teams, it feels like the the Isles have the most pieces in motion that need to get set before the start of the season. The Rangers’ roster seems fairly settled and the Devils’ roster won’t be normalized until Travis Zajac rejoins the team. The Islanders have a lot of parts in motion ... and a lot of those parts still have that shiny newness to them.

Forget the situation surrounding the Nassau Coliseum (non)renovations. Forget that the Isles finished dead last in the Atlantic for the past four seasons. Forget that the rival Rangers inked the best free agent on the market while the Islanders couldn’t convince Christian Ehrhoff to stick around after trading for his negotiating rights. That’s all the past. The future is what the start of the season is all about and the Islanders have a ton of young players that could kindle notions of a playoff run in the next few seasons.

As Insider’s Summer Skate series jumps to the Island, Hockey Prospectus author Timo Seppa provides a projection that John Tavares will make a solid leap forward this season. Moreover, in a separate piece, Insider contributor Neil Greenberg claims that Tavares has a very good shot at

The Isles' junior achievers

January, 3, 2011
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Three of the four Islander prospects participating in the World Junior Championships squared off yesterday when Canada clashed with Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

The Swiss-Can’t-Miss, Nino Niederreiter, showed some flashes of his immense talent on a few rushes up the ice, but he didn’t have much help on his line and didn’t do much on the whole. He ended the game in the sin bin after picking up a 10-minute misconduct penalty when things got chippy with the Canadians in the final two minutes.

The second Swiss line, headlined by the draft-eligible and likely first rounder Sven Bartschi, had better success.

El Nino finished the tournament with two goals and an assist in five games, firing a team-high 22 shots on goal.

The Isles-related highlight of the day came on the go-ahead goal by Canada’s Casey Cizikas. Getting a few more minutes with Jaden Schwartz injured, the Cizikas broke in on a two-on-one down the left wing and called his own number, burying the shot top shelf on the short side. He nearly converted another two-on-one attempt a few minutes later down the right side too.

On D, Calvin de Haan looked sharp though he didn’t have to handle too much pressure from the Swiss forwards. As Gare Joyce joked, the Swiss speak about eight different languages, but don’t know the word for “forecheck” in any of them.

Cizikas (two goals and an assist) and de Haan (three assists) take on the final Isles prospect in the tournament, the U.S.’s Brock Nelson in tonight’s semifinal. Nelson missed some action with an upper-body injury but is expected to be in the lineup tonight. He’s recorded an assist in three games, with seven shots on goal.


The Roloson Return

As I’m sure all fans know by now, the Isles acquired defenseman Ty Wishart from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson.

Up here in Buffalo for the World Junior Championships, I asked Joyce, an NHL draft guru and chief writer for Insider’s draft blog, for his take on Wishart. Overall, Joyce likes the 6-4 defenseman, selected in the first round of the 2006 draft. He thinks Wishart has top-four potential and will contribute more in his own end than he will with the puck.

While the Isles shipped him to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, he should be a nice addition to a blue line that projects to include Travic Hamonic and Calvin de Haan a season or so down the line.

Isles return Niederreiter to WHL

October, 28, 2010
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The New York Islanders announced late Thursday morning that rookie winger Nino Niederreiter, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 entry draft, would be returned to his WHL team, the Portland Winterhawks. The announcement comes just after Niederreiter skated in his ninth NHL game Wednesday night, a 5-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Under league rules, NHL teams are allowed a nine-game sample run with junior players taken in the previous draft. After that time, the team can either return the player to his junior team or keep him on the NHL roster and start the clock on the player's entry-level contract. By returning Niederreiter to the WHL, the top prospect's deal will not expire until after the 2013-14 season.

The Swiss forward, known by the nickname El Niņo, was solid but didn't have a tremendous impact during the Islanders' hot start to the season. Over the nine games he recorded just one goal and one assist while averaging 13:36 of ice time, primarily skating on the third line alongside Doug Weight. Against the Canadiens he failed to record a shot on goal in 14:28 of action.

Many believe the future will be bright for Niederreiter, who turned heads as the top-scorer of the Swiss team at the 2010 World Junior Championships. He was the NHL's youngest player at the start of the season and, at 18 years and 31 days, was the fifth-youngest to play in an NHL game since the 1987-88 season.

The move appears to be a smart one on several levels. First, Niederreiter will see much more ice time with the Winterhawks than the Isles. Even if he's not facing the same level of competition, there's only so much he can grow spending 47 minutes on the bench each night. Second, the Islanders will now enjoy Niederreiter's services when some of their more advanced prospects -- like former No. 1 pick John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey -- are more seasoned and ready to form the core of a true playoff contender. Even if the Islanders do overcome an array of injuries to key players like Okposo and D Mark Streit to crash the postseason party this season, it's unlikely Niederreiter would have been the missing ingredient given the early returns.

W2W4: Islanders vs. Canadiens

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
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The Isles clash with the Canadiens in Montreal tonight. Here are three keys to keep an eye on.

Effort Level

While the Islanders remain an early-season surprise, head coach Scott Gordon hasn’t been pleased with a perceived diminished level of energy in recent games. As reported on the team’s site:

“We didn’t come close to playing the last four games with the same kind of oomph that we had in the first three.”

New York’s hot start has largely been predicated by an ethic of hard work for 60 minutes. They’ve also enjoyed a bit of an underdog edge as some teams appear to have mistaken the Isles for an easy two points and come out flatfooted. This team isn’t absent talent, but it doesn’t have the stars to coast and still escape with two points like Eastern Conference powers Washington and Pittsburgh.

The Habs have started strong as well and will likely be on guard on their home ice. The Isles are going to have to be ready to go all out whenever they jump over the boards.

El Nino

This could be Nino Niederreiter’s last game with the Islanders this season. After tonight his trial run comes to an end and GM Garth Snow will have to decide whether to return him to his junior team or keep him with the big club and use up a year of his entry-level contract.

As discussed previously, the rookie has been solid, but not spectacular to date. He may have to leave a more lasting impression tonight in order to convince Snow he should stick around.

Special Teams

The Islanders’ power play has been clicking percentage wise (26.2 percent) but part of that has been padded with several 5-on-3 goals. Meanwhile, the Habs’ power-play unit is scuffling something fierce, converting just 2 of 29 chances with the man-advantage.

Montreal’s power play was one of the league’s best units last season, so they’re more than due for a big breakout to start an upward trend. The Islanders will have to be extra disciplined on the PK against the PPG-starved Habs. Of course, the best solution is to stay out of the box altogether.

Morning Links

Is the end near for El Nino?

October, 25, 2010
10/25/10
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Wednesday’s contest against the Montreal Canadiens marks the ninth game on the Islanders’ schedule and decision time regarding top prospect Nino Niederreiter. If GM Garth Snow keeps him on the roster beyond that point, the clock starts on his NHL service time, meaning his current contract would expire after the 2012-13 season. Alternatively, the team could return him to his junior hockey team, the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, and save that year for a season when the roster seems better aligned for a run at the playoffs.

Head coach Scott Gordon said today that no decision has been made and that El Nino will skate against Montreal, where he may need to improve on his early output in order to stick around.

In his first eight games, Niederreiter has done okay. Not great. Not bad. Just okay. He’s recorded two points (a goal and an assist), mostly while playing alongside Doug Weight on the third line. That ranks him tied for eighth in the points category among NHL rookies, while he stands 22nd in shifts per game (19.1). And keep in mind Niederreiter is the youngest player in the NHL this season.

Lighthouse Hockey takes a look at El Nino from an advanced-metrics perspective, using CORSI and more to measure his impact. It’s an interesting study, which concludes by showing that he really hasn’t been all that effective. Opponents are putting more shots on goal than the Islanders when he’s on the ice, despite the fact that Niederreiter starts a team-high 63.9 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. That means the puck is usually flowing towards the Isles’ net when El Nino goes over the boards. (Big stick tap to the folks at LHH for a great post, by the way.)

So what to do now? Well, it comes down to faith. If you believe that Niederreiter will improve and/or he’s an integral part of the Isles’ early success and his presence gives the team a legitimate shot at an odds-defying run to the playoffs this season, you keep him. If you think New York’s hot start will fizzle, or Niederreiter just isn’t ready for the rigors of an NHL season, you send him back.

In speaking with NHL draft guru Gare Joyce last week, he’s adamant that Niederreiter should be returned to Portland, more for developmental reasons than the Islanders’ playoff chances. As for what Snow believes, we’ll find out soon enough.

Donnie Pucks: Isles are looking to stay hot

October, 22, 2010
10/22/10
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Every time the Islanders play, they suprise me. On Thursday, the red-hot Lightning played host to the Isles. What happened? Just another win in OT to raise the Isles' record to 4-1-2.

The trip continues with the 2-3 Panthers in Florida.

Don't be fooled by the record. The Panthers play a tight D and have a goalie, Tomas Vokoun, who in 5 games has a 1.94 gaa and .929 saves percentage.

Players to watch for the Islanders:
  • Matt Moulson -- He leads the team with 4 goals. He also picked up the game winning goal in OT in Tampa.
  • Nino Niederreiter -- The Islanders' first round pick has a goal and an assist so for this season. How he plays in the next couple of games will determine if he stays up with the big club.
  • Rick DiPietro -- If he starts in Florida, he will look to build off a 28-save performance on Thursday in Tampa.
  • Dwayne Roloson -- Roloson has been putting on the pressure. Rick needs to fire back.


W2W4: Islanders vs. Penguins

October, 15, 2010
10/15/10
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The Islanders skate into Steeltown Friday night to take on the Penguins. Here are three factors to watch when the action starts.

Energy Center

The Penguins new abode, Consol Energy Center, has not been hospitable to its hosts thus far. The Pens are winless at home to start the season and will be determined to get that W. Also working in their favor; the Pens have won their last eight home games against the Islanders.

Scott Gordon’s team enjoyed fast starts against the Rangers and in their loss to the Capitals, but I’d expect the Pens to match the early effort level. If New York can get the first goal though, Pittsburgh may press and open itself up to a few mistakes the Islanders can exploit.

What’s Next for El Nino?

The talented rookie notched his first NHL goal against Washington, but he hasn’t had a huge impact to date. Through the first three games the goal remains his only point and he’s put just five shots on goal. More concerning to his development, he's averaging just over 13 minutes of ice time while skating on the third line. With all of the Islander injuries, I think a lot of people expected him to be skating a little more. When his more developed teammates return from injuries, I wonder how many minutes will be available for Niederreiter. It sure feels like he’ll be bound for Portland after his ninth game, thereby preserving a season of his entry-level contract and getting him more quality minutes. If he’s going to stick around, he may have to make a better impression. And soon.

For his part, draft guru Gare Joyce writes that Niederreiter is currently on the wrong track for his development.

Covering Crosby

As Lighthouse Hockey astutely points out in their game preview, the Isles’ top D pairing of Mark Eaton and Radek Martinek did a solid job containing Alex Ovechkin in Washington and you’d expect them to draw the Crosby assignment in Pittsburgh. Martinek saw 11 minutes of ice time against Crosby in the one meeting prior to Martinek’s injury last season. Eaton should have a good read on the NHL’s top center as well, having played with him in Pittsburgh for four seasons before coming to Long Island.

Caps' stars shoot down Isles

October, 14, 2010
10/14/10
10:59
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The Islanders may have lost, but they certainly acquitted themselves well as their injury riddled roster made the Washington Capitals labor the entire game before falling 2-1 on a power-play goal in the final minutes of regulation.

Box Score

While the Islanders’ top players continue to sit on the shelf (including John Tavares, Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo and Rob Schremp) and were joined by the suspended James Wisniewski, the Caps got goals from their two stars, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, to provide the winning margin. That was despite being largely outworked by the Islanders for the vast majority of the game.

The loss perfectly illustrates why a lot of pundits are sour on the Islanders’ chances to make the playoffs given their long list of injured key players. The Caps and the NHL’s other top teams are so talent rich that they can still win games even when they’re having an off night. The Islanders, on the other hand, have to put in 110-percent effort every night and even then it may not be enough for a W.

The Islanders don’t have anything to be ashamed of last night however, and if they can maintain this effort level when Tavares and his top-tier teammates return, the Isles will almost certainly outpace expectations.

Plus

+ El Nino

Nino Niederreiter tallied his first NHL goal off a sweet set up from Doug Weight in the first period. Niederreiter slipped relatively unmarked just to the right of the Caps’ crease and slapped Weight’s pass between the pads of goalie Michal Neuvirth (who probably was the only thing separating the Isles from a W last night). He finished plus-1 with two shots on goal.

+ Dwayne Roloson

He brought his “A” game to D.C. for his first start of the year. When you hold the Caps to two goals, you’re doing just fine. Yeah, he got caught flat-footed on Ovechkin’s goal, but Ovi’s made a lot of goalies look pretty silly. Roloson played well enough to get a win Wednesday.

Minus

- Converting Chances

Seriously there’s not a lot to pick on from last night, but the deciding factor was probably the Isles’ inability to convert a few pretty good scoring chances. Matt Moulson couldn’t beat Neuvirth on a breakaway in the third period and even in the first the Isles had a number of excellent point-blank shots but only deposited one past the Caps’ goalie.

Morning Links
  • Here’s a look from the Washington Post.
  • Lighthouse Hockey provides a lengthy and insightful recap, including some CORSI ratings from last night’s game. Look at those numbers and you can really see the Islanders deserved to win last night.

W2W4: Stars vs. Islanders

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
8:58
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In preparation for tomorrow’s season opener, here are five points to watch for when the Islanders take the ice against the Dallas Stars at Nassau Coliseum.

John Tavares 2.0
I admit I didn’t have to dig to deep for this one, but it’s tough to overlook former No. 1 overall picks. Everyone’s excited to see what Tavares can bring to the rink this season. Can he equal the Steven Stamkos-redux hype? How much better can he make his teammates? If the Isles want a shot at the playoffs this season, Tavares will have to far surpass his freshman point total of 54. It’s only one game, but tonight we’ll get a chance to see how far he’s come since last season.

El Niņo
Two reasons to watch the wunderkind: The first is sheer talent. He’s the team’s top prospect for a reason and fans will want to see what he can do in a regular-season environment. Second is whether he can hack it in the NHL or whether he’ll be sent back to juniors to save a year on his contract. Given the current injury predicament, Niederreiter has ample opportunity to stick with the big club, but if he looks overwhelmed, there’s no sense forcing the issue and holding him beyond the nine-game trial run.

Special Teams
The Islanders’ single biggest deficiencies last season came with an uneven number of skaters on the ice. New York ranked 27th on the power play and 29th on the penalty kill. In Game 1 we’ll see if there’s been any improvement or whether the units are still works in progress.

Is anyone there?
Tickets to the opener are being heavily discounted (up to 40 percent off). The Stars aren’t exactly a sexy opponent, but it is the season opener. If the place is half full (maybe I should say half empty), that would be another sad note on which to start the season.

Victory!
With a nod to Johnny Drama, let’s be honest, after the past month of injuries, the Isles need some good news in a bad way. Beating the Stars won’t win the Cup, but it will generate a little positivity and break up the steady stream of punches the team’s been absorbing since Mark Streit went down. And hey, the kids in Edmonton got it done against the Flames last night (behind a beautiful goal by rookie Jordan Eberle), so why not the Isles too?

Morning Links

Isles finalize roster

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
2:29
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Nino Niederreiter will break camp with the Islanders, while fellow prospect Calvin de Haan will return this his junior team in Oshawa after the Islanders made their final moves of the preseason today.

Those outcomes played out pretty much as expected, as the Islanders have now reduced their roster to the legal limit of 23. Niederreiter, the team's top prospect, could still be returned to his junior team in Portland, Ore. after as many as nine NHL games. de Haan likely needed to crack the team's top two defensive pairings to stick with the big club.

Matt Martin was also assigned to Bridgeport in the AHL.

The Islanders open the season Saturday at home against the Dallas Stars.

Here's a look at how the final 23 breaks down:

Forwards: Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Trevor Gillies, Michael Grabner, Trent Hunter, Zenon Konopka, Matt Moulson, Nino Niederreiter, Frans Nielsen, PA Parenteau, Jon Sim
John Tavares, Doug Weight

Defensemen: Mark Eaton, Bruno Gervais, Jack Hillen, Milan Jurcina, Andrew MacDonald, Radek Martinek, Mike Mottau, James Wisniewski

Goalies: Rick DiPietro, Dwayne Roloson

Nathan Lawson, Rob Schremp, Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit will begin the season on injured reserve.

The announcement triggered some interesting cap tweets from TSN's Daniel Tolensky, who wrote that the Isles' top 12 forwards total just $11.675 million in salary this season. That led to some interesting follow-up discussion on his time line in which he states his dissatisfaction with the state of the franchise. Definitely worth checking out.

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