Will El Nino Rain Down On Long Island This Year?

Nino Niederreiter was drafted 5th overall by the New York Islanders at this year's entry draft back in June. With Cam Fowler still available when the Islanders were making their trip to the podium, all the tweeps on twitter were beginning to salivate at the possibility of drafting a potential top-2 defenseman, but instead, Garth surprised us all with the flashy forward from Switzerland.

Fowler dropped to 12th to be selected by Anaheim. Apparently scouts from a handful of other NHL teams saw that there was something missing in Fowler's game and that he wasn't top-10 talent as many had originally predicted.

However, El Nino was known for having a sick pair of hands and enough moves to spin your head around. At 6'2 and 203 pounds, the 17-year old (at the time since he turned 18 three days ago), already looked like a grown man. In 65 games with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, Nino scored 36 goals, 24 assists and 60 points. He also proved to be a playoff performer, scoring 16 points in 13 games as well.

For a prospect profile, check out this YouTube video courtesy of NHLVideo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NttaHPDiOU4

The "puck battle and sniping ability" that E.J. McGuire was talking about was seen at the Islanders prospect scrimmage back in July. Along with Kirill Kabanov, Matt Martin and Travis Hamonic, Niederreiter stood out as one of the more skilled forwards. For example, check out this move in this next YouTube video that was posted by user nintendofan50:


In this game, when a player was penalized, the obstructed skater would get to take a penalty shot instead of the team receiving a two-minute power play. Nino was put in instead of the player who was supposed to shoot and sent the crowd into a complete uproar with his shifty dekes.

Let's face it. He's good.

But is he good enough to crack an NHL line-up at the age of 18? Josh Bailey proved that he was up to the task after being drafted in 2008. If my memory serves me correctly, Nino can play eight games with the Islanders this season. If he plays a ninth, he would have to remain with them the rest of the year, losing his eligibility to go back to Junior. Bailey was tested for the first eight games in the 2008-2009 season and then was held on to. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Isles put Nino through the same type of run down depending on the way he performs in training camp.

Do you think the Isles should give Nino Niederreiter the chance to perform at the NHL level right away in October? Or is another year of Junior hockey the best thing for him?

-Rob McGowan

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