Nino is Not JT’s Wingman

The New York Islanders have a bright future ahead of them. Loaded with prospects, Islanders’ fans know there will be changes to come over the next few years, and the team we see now isn’t going to be the same team we see when the organization brings hockey to Brooklyn in 2015.

Speculation on who will be on the team, who will be left out, and who will be paired together is part of being a fan. Fans need to play coach, sometimes, and why not? It’s fun to put our own lines together, especially lines for the near future.

One thing I have noticed from Isles’ fans: everyone seems to peg Nino Niederreiter as John Tavares’ future winger. Well, what I have to say is not a bad thing, but it’s just not going to happen. I’m sure it would be a great match, but it will never be the permanent pairing with this team, and the Islanders will be better off for it.

Now, I’m not saying Nino wouldn’t mesh well with John Tavares. Nino would score a ton of goals playing alongside our Chosen One. It just wouldn’t make sense when Tavares already has Matt Moulson.

Nino and Moulson play a similar-style of hockey in the offensive: they put themselves right in front of the crease, and battle for loose pucks in front of the net. Moulson’s made a career out of this, posting three consecutive 30-goal seasons since he signed with the Islanders for the 2009-10 season.

For those who did notice Nino Niederreiter while he was fumbling around on the Islanders’ fourth-line last season, you would have seen Nino was actually making noise in front of opposing goalies. He caused scrums, aggravated defensemen, and had scoring chances, but just could not get the job done for anything.

Regardless, Nino has been scoring plenty of goals by playing his way in the AHL. Nino’s two goals last night, both coming off of rebounds in traffic, pushed his season-total to 15, which is good for fourth in the American Hockey League. The potential is there for Nino to become a big-time goal scorer in the NHL, but I guess that comes with being the 5th-overall pick in the NHL Draft.

And sure, there’s no denying that Nino might be better at scoring goals while sitting in traffic when he reaches his potential, but there’s a that old saying, “if it a’int broke, don’t fix it.” According to Eric Hornick, the last time Moulson scored a goal when Tavares wasn’t on the ice was in November 2010. That’s 60 consecutive goals that Matt Moulson has scored while sharing the ice with John Tavares. Forty of those goals were assisted by John Tavares.

With that being said, there’s no way Matt Moulson, who continues to reach career-highs in goals, assists, and points, will be taken off JT’s wing, and there’s no reason to add Nino, who will play the same type of style. The offensive zone needs to be spread out.

When Nino plays big-time minutes in the NHL, expect to see him as a bigger body next to Ryan Strome, or as the perfect complement to Brock Nelson. Either way, Nino looks to be set up for success, and it’s only a matter of time until he makes an impact at the NHL-level. It just won’t be because he’s playing with #91.

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About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants

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