Well, here’s something that falls into the newfound category “typically Islanders.”
The agent for Nino Niederreiter publicly declared no confidence in Garth Snow or Jack Capuano, and said that he wanted his client traded. Then the fun began!
The twitterverse exploded with fan outrage! The message board (is there any message board worth reading other than Islandermania.com?) broke into many fractured debates, arguing the merits of both the Islanders and Nino’s actions.
The fact is, Nino’s “camp” may have stumbled onto something that guarantees him a roster spot in the near future, because Nino figured out something that we have been discussing internally for quite some time. We shall share this with you in, in two parts.
Part One – Two sides of a coin as a player
He’s tearing it up in the AHL…Really?
Yes, Nino, is doing well in the AHL. His play would dictate that, yes, he should be on this team. However what do his stats mean?
Nino, currently has 19 goals and 36 pts in 39 games. This is .92 pts per game, on pace for 37 goals and 70 pts. He is 12th in the AHL in scoring, behind non other than newly acquired Keith Aucoin. Lets compare his “monster” stats to some other Isles from the recent past.
Fellow AHL all-star, Jeff Tambellini . First AHL season 56 games 25 goals 31 pts 56 pts. 1 pt per game, on pace for 34 goals and 76 pts. We all know how this turned out.
Trent Hunter 30 goals 65 pts in 80 games. Trent was solid player before knee injuries hampered his career.
Josh Bailey 11 games 6 goals 11 assists 17 pts. 1.5 pts a game, on pace for 117. Well, Josh is a nice guy.
Kyle Okposo 35 games 9 goals 28 pts. .8 pts a game on pace for 60 pts. The book is hasn’t been written for Kyle yet. Short season or not, he has show consistency.
Casey Cizikas 52 games 15 goals 45 pts .86 pts a game on pace for 65 pts. So far so good, just needs to get a little faster.
The AHL is often looked at place to gain confidence. The problem is, what works in the AHL does not necessarily work here. There are few NHL caliber players in the AHL. Look no further than this years “Sorry we wasted four months of your hockey season free scrimmage”. Who did Nino undress for his pretty goal? Jon Landry. There is truth to building confidence, but one could argue that it is false confidence.
Well, power forwards take time to develop…really? This is the biggest misconception in Hockey.
Where did this myth start? Players need to fill out, they need to get faster, or they need to get better defensively, but to say they take time to contribute on a regular basis is completely erroneous. You know who takes time to develop? Guys who shouldn’t be here in the first place, 3rd and 4th liners and maybe goalies. Not top line forwards or top pairing D men. Of course there are exceptions, so don’t waste time looking up every NHL player. Save your time and look at any top prospect. They come up young and they produce.
For your viewing pleasure and to help you save some time, here is a list of “power forwards” that took absolutely no time to develop, they just produced from day 1.
Milan Lucic – 2nd Rd. 50th overall. 0 AHL games, Nhl when he was 19 and scored 8 goals, then 17
Jarome Iginla – 1st Rd. 11th overall. 19 years old, 21 goals
Kyle Okposo – 1st Rd. 7th overall. 20 years old 18 goals AH 0 ahl gamesL only because he left college early
Todd Bertuzzi – 1st Rd. 23rd overall. 21 1years old 8 goals 0 ahl games
Rick Nash – 1st Rd., 1st overall. 19 years old 17 goals 0 ahl games
Scott Hartnell - 1st Rd. 6th overall. 18 years old 2 goals, 19 years old 14 goals, 0 AHL games
Ryan Malone – 4th Rd. 125th overall. 24 years old, played college, 3 AHL games then 22 goals in the NHL
Sean Couturier – 1st Rd. 8th overall. 19 years old 0 AHL games 17 goals
Evander Kane – 1st Rd. 4th overall. 18 years old 0 AHL games 14 goals.
And then….wait for it…
Nino Niederreiter – 1stRd. 5th overall. 19 years old 0 AHL games, 2 goals minus 30 in 64 games
All played the year or the year after being drafted, except for Bertuzzi and Malone. Bertuzzi was unsigned by the Islanders until the last minute and Ryan Malone played in western collegiate league.
Could it be that Nino is just not as talented as predicted?
If you drafted a guy fifth overall and resided to the fact that he was going to take 3-5 years to develop, then you picked Brett Lindros. They call that a project. Obviously Nino has a higher upside than Brett, so if you already fielded a winning team, this pick is fine. When you know that you will need players to contribute, as Cam Fowler already has, this is not the best strategy.
Well, he was ruined by the Islanders and Garth Snow….Really?
Another year at WHL, in hindsight, was the right call. Weather we assume he was here for cap reasons not with standing, many of us felt that the NHL was the right place for Nino. All we expected was 20 to 30 pts. After all he had 2 pts in 9 games in NHL at the end of the regular season just one year prior, and the NHL doesn’t allow players his age to play anywhere else but his junior team or the big club.
Well, he only played fourth line minutes. He would have done more with better line mates and more ice time.
He had 1 pt. However, with the same 4th line minutes and the same crappy line mates, Casey Cizikas, at best half the player at least skill set wise, had 4 pts in 15 games and was a plus 1. This can’t be stressed enough. Nino HAD ONE POINT AND WAS A MINUS TWENTY-NINE
Of course he would have played better with John Tavares or Frans Nielson. However who is moving off of those lines for Nino? P.A Parenteau, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, or Michael Grabner? Not happening.
He was a good draft pick. I mean some experts said he would have gone first in the next years draft…Really?
Tell that to Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Jonathan Huberdeau, Adam Larsson and our beloved Ryan Strome. Plain and simple, we should have drafted Cam Fowler, not only would have filled a need on defense, but how many years did he need to develop? RNH, Landeskog and Larsson all contributed in their first eligible seasons. Strome will never see the AHL and Jonathan Huberdeau is contributing this year. All of them, top 5 picks, zero AHL games (outside of lockout games of course)
He is right to complain, as he is considered to be one of the Isles top prospects. We’re not saying he is wrong for criticizing this teams shortcomings. After all, the Islanders dance to the beat of their own drum. They don’t follow other teams models. Look, not all franchises try to employ experienced and talented general managers and coaches. However, it has worked for the Flyers, Rangers, Red Wings, Devils, Kings, Canadiens among others, including the New York Islanders…just not these New York Islanders. Well, this team is not adequate for Nino, but it seems to be ok for other Isles prospects such as John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Andrew MacDonald, Travis Hamonic, David Ullstrom, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas, to name a few. Oh, those guys are on the team, why would they complain? Well, then the following players who are not on the team have not asked for a trade, Aaron Ness, Matt Donovan, Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson, Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart. All of which could have easily made this years team.
Part Two- Going Forward
The other part of this formula involves people saying that Nino’s inexperience should make him a complacent lap dog and just let the Islanders do whatever philosophically lacking plan they pretend to have for the future. While this is the tendency of most draft picks in the past, it hasn’t worked for Eric Lindros, Bryan Berard, Justin Schultz, Blake Wheeler, and an interesting final pair in Jason Gregoire and Blake Kessel, both of whom bailed out on the same guy that Nino’s agent called untrustworthy.
We absolutely love to point out everything that is wrong with this franchise. After all pointing out Snow’s shortcomings is like the betting on the Dream Team (the original, not the overrated 12 guys from this past Olympics) vs. Angola. It’s a lay up. You almost feel bad because it is too easy. If Snow had balls he would trade Nino. Not because he requested a trade, although that situation happened involving Kirk Muller, Bryan Berard, Eric Lindros, Rod Brind’Amour, Jeff Carter, Patrick Roy, Dany Heatley (twice), Chris Pronger, or Rick Nash. This is a blue print to follow, because being a General Manager should require a winners pride, mixed with a bucketful of common sense. The bucketful of common sense here involves O’Reilly and Subban just sitting there, as either would be an upgrade for this team.
However, Garth Snow does not make NHL trades.
Seriously, look at the list of players that demanded trades. Lots of talented guys. In any of those trades except Lindros, when was equal talent returned for said player? For instance, Patrick Roy netted Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky, and Andrei Kovalenko, and that’s because the Canadiens threw in Mike Keane. If Garth Snow was smart- no evidence of that thus far- he would be making phone calls everyday until this team is improved.
Garths inner thought should be “ Hmmm, there are a number of players deemed available, maybe I can move a human being or multiple human beings for players that can actually help this team.” Not every player who is deemed available is an upgrade, however this is true for Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Evander Kane, P.K Subban and Ryan O’Reilly.
“Hey fellow General Manager, this is Garth Snow. What? Oh, sorry, sorry that I included myself in that title. Listen, we have headaches, lets find a cure. I’ve got a #5 overall pick that’s going to be a beast. You’ve got one of the above mentioned players that wants to you know longer have a good relationshio with. I can throw in any of our awesome prospects not named Ryan Strome or Griffin Reinhart, and I can include a second round draft pick in a given year. You get this kids ELC with unattainable bonuses, who may be a future all star. We get a player who gives this team a little legitimacy. Since I have no budget restrictions and can make any deal that helps improve this team, lets deal.”
And if Nino is actually as bad as we statistically pointed out, why would anyone want him? Because the perception is that we will ruin him, not that he doesn’t have talent. If Snow was smart he would sell high and actually try to support the players who actually seem to want to be here, so they don’t follow suit.
Which begs the question- why was Nino on this team last year?
Was it his talent? Obviously not, if he produced so little and was relegated to a fourth line. Was it his potential? Hmm…how does one measure potential? Is there a scale that has ever accurately predicted what a failed rookie year will do for a player? We’re taking a stab why Nino was here last year, and it did involve statistics. Mostly math. $2.75 million cap hit, $900,000 salary. THAT is the key to Islander development. If it wasn’t, explain the cap hit of Mike Halmo.
Bottom line- Imaginary Garth Snow will have done more to try to improve his club on that day than the real Garth Snow has done since choosing JT 1st overall. This is the time to make a trade. Subban is waiting. O’Reily is waiting. Benn was waiting. Others are available. But…prepare to see Nino on the Islanders real soon, because for whatever sorry excuse for rationale, Garth Snow does not make hockey trades. Prepare to see more of the same.
What does all this mean? Draw your own conclusions, look up more stats and continue to read. As always, we invite you to agree, disagree or add on. Feel free to do so in comments.
About the Author: We are two long time hockey fans who certainly have our own opinions and points of view. Feel free to share yours. Follow on twitter @joshbarely