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El Niño's rise to superstardom

Updated: March 19, 2010, 12:47 PM ET
By Lindsay Berra

If you're a little on the dorky side, you're going to think of one thing when you read Nino Niederreiter's name, and it's going to make you giggle. In fact, some of you are probably chuckling now, remembering legendary comedian Martin Short singing "My Little Buttercup" as Little Neddy Nederlander in The Three Amigos. But alliteration aside, Nino Niederreiter is not little. And his skill is nothing to laugh at.

Through the first 37 games of his season with the Portland Winterhawks, the 6-foot-2, 203-pound Swiss was leading all WHL rookies in scoring with 23 goals and 41 points. Back then, he was a promising kid, ranked sixth among draft-eligible prospects in the WHL. That kind of ranking would have had Niederreiter going in the late-first or early-second round of June's NHL Draft.

But then came the U-20 World Junior Championships in Saskatchewan.

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