With Chrissy Smith
New York Islanders Owner Charles Wang, General Manager Garth Snow and Head Coach Scott Gordon announced Tuesday that rookie Nino Niederreiter, who has been training with the team, signed his entry level contract.
Niederreiter, also known as El Nino, originally from Chur, Switzerland, plays the right wing position. He was selected fifth overall by the New York Islanders in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, making him the highest-drafted Swiss hockey player in NHL history.
“I will try to play my best game and prove to my coach that it was a good pick to take me,” Niederreiter said.
El Nino decided to play North American junior hockey to give him a better shot at making it into the NHL. He was drafted in 2009 by the Portland Winterhawks of Western Hockey League (WHL).
Nino just turned 18 on September 8th. He joins other young players Josh Bailey, 20, and John Tavares, 20. The team is expected to mature together and hopefully turn into something really special in the years to come.
“I will try to be a two way player who loves to shoot the puck and obviously loves to score,” Nino said.
The real challenge, Gordon explains, will be playing with men who’ve been in the professional game for nearly 20 years. According to Gordon, “at the end of the day it’ll be the difference of playing against men.”
Last week, Niederreiter scored the Islanders’ first goal in game one of their two-game set against Boston.
“He played extremely well last week in Boston at the rookie games,” Snow said. “He’s obviously a big body, that’s something that he has in his favor going in to training camp, along with his skill set.”
Nino added: “It’s just fantastic to be a part of the Islanders and even now that I’ve signed here, it’s just unbelievable. I am very excited to be here.”