In a normal year, Kichton’s NHL Entry Level Contract (ELC) would have already passed from negotiation to signing. This year negotiations have yet to begin.
Several weeks after multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts were being handed out like Hershey Bars on Halloween, seventy-thousand dollar a year ELC’s are being withheld while meetings in Toronto and New York drag on to the inevitable.
Nino Niederreiter came into the NHL last season with a lot of high hopes and expectations. From a stats stand point, it's safe to say that he fell very short of the mark for anyone's standards.
In 55 games, the 19 year old winger scored one goal along with a -29 rating and 12 penalty minutes after spending basically the entire season on the fourth line. His line-mates for the majority of the year were Jay Pandolfo ,Tim Wallace (prior to being claimed by the Tampa Bay Lightning) or Micheal Haley as well as other various candidates that were dressed depending on that game's line-up.
It's safe to say that he wasn't playing with the most offensively capable skaters, and he had to do so in limited ice time as well.
You couldn't have been more wrong if you predicted the Islanders to take a forward in this year's draft. The Isles only selected defenseman out of all seven rounds of this year's draft. They also acquired the top four defenseman that GM Garth Snow has continuously talked about addressing in this off-season.
The first move came when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Islanders traded their 2013 second round pick to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Lubomir Visnovsky, a 35-year old defenseman (he turns 36 in August) in the final year of his contract. Visnovsky put up six goals and 21 assists for 27 points in 68 games last year with the Ducks. The year before was even better as the Ducks d-man scored 61 points in 81 games. 2012 was a tough year overall for the Ducks, so there's reason to believe that Visnovsky can be an offensive weapon, especially on the power play.
With the NHL 2012 Entry Draft rapidly approaching, Friday June 22nd, 2012 into Saturday June 23rd, 2012, there are many selections left to be determined. Most importantly to us is where do the Islanders fit in, in this year's draft. Once again the Islanders have a pick in the top five, this year it is the number 4 pick and there are a few ways in which the Islanders can use this pick. (Photo Credit: The Hockey Writers)
After allowing seven goals in an onslaught of a hockey game, the final buzzer at the Nationwide Arena would not only sound the ending of a massacre, but also signify the end of what was a disappointing season for the New York Islanders.
It was a disappointing year for many reasons. With the rebuild entering its fourth season, many expected this team's fortunes to change. For plenty, that meant making the playoffs instead of falling into the draft lottery. For yours truly, that meant climbing out of the cellar but not high enough to reach 8th place. I am sad to say that we were both wrong. The Islanders finished the year out of the playoffs and 27th overall in the league, giving them the fourth overall pick going into Tuesday night's draft lottery for the second year in a row.
On paper you can call the 2012 season just the same as any other. At 14th place in the Eastern Conference, the Isles finished the season with a 34-37-11 record with 79 points. That's only a six point improvement over last season and the SAME exact record as the year before that in 2010. It would almost appear that the rebuild has established a trend of not going up or down, but rather staying put.
I've had the pleasure of talking with Travis Hamonic several times throughout my years with the NYI Blog Box. I've actually been in touch with him since his days in the WHL, then with the Moose Jaw Warriors. If you read my interview with him when he was only 19 years old and still hoping to make it to the NHL, you would see that this kid had plenty to say before he was earning a professional paycheck.
Not much has changed with the one that everyone calls, "Hammer." He's just a kid living the dream that loves to play hockey. To be honest, judging from my time spent in the locker room, he is easily, if not the biggest heart and soul player they have on that team. He always wears his heart on his sleeve and is quick to defend his team on the ice, and with his words. I remember asking him once what "the problem" was with his team's play, and he was quick to turn that around and say there aren't any problems, just areas that went wrong that could be fixed. He bleeds orange and blue amongst the best of them.
It shows merit to the Islanders scouts and management, who have not only done a good job of drafting young talent, but finding character guys with leadership qualities as well. That's why Hamonic has become one of Snow's best draft moves in 2008.
I have said that I believe it would be better for the Islanders to finish between 10th and 12th place in the Eastern Conference as opposed to going the 'Fail for Nail' route and trying to get a top-five lottery pick for this summer's 2012 Entry Draft. But if the season ended today, the Isles would go into the lottery with the fifth pick in the draft. Although that is the least likely position to be in when hoping to move up to number one, the Islanders are almost guaranteed to at least have a selection in this year's top 10 class.
With the playoff picture painting itself out on a permanent canvas over the next two weeks, let's put ourselves in the shoes of some NHL scouts and take a quick glance at what the Islanders will be looking at in between game 82 and draft day.
Nail Yakupov is the clear choice for first overall, having a lot of Alexander Ovechkin comparisons made about his play. After Nail comes Mikhail Grigorenko, who has often been compared to Evgeni Malkin. Both of these Russian prospects will probably be out of the Islanders grasp barring a significant change on the day of the lottery. After these two goal-scoring forwards lie plenty of top-rated defenseman.
Like most hockey fans, I followed this Mondays NHL Trade Deadline with piqued interest. I had to work until 7pm but the 600 plus tweets I received kept me apprised of the days’ activity. As a Bridgeport Sound Tiger fan the trade of 39 year old forward Brian Rolston was great news.
Rolston had cleared waivers at noon the previous day and was destined to Bridgeport if not for that trade. If the Islanders didn’t need his services the Sound Tigers certainly did not. We have a good thing going and his presence would hurt a strong young team.
Nino Niederreiter has been playing with the New York Islanders all season long, but the amount of time he has spent on the ice has become somewhat of a concern amongst Isles fans. The 19-year old winger had a very impressive season last year with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. His skill, size and vision on the ice allowed the Islanders to feel that he was ready to make the full-time jump to the NHL with the organization envisioning his development to result along the lines of a top-six scoring winger.
So far this year, Niederreiter has become the exact opposite. His season was plagued by injuries from the get-go, forcing him to miss the start of the year with a groin injury he sustained in the pre-season. He came back gradually, but eventually started to show that he was getting his game back by using his size in the corners and scoring his first goal of the season. But another injury, the infamous concussion that was given to him in a game against the Dallas Stars, became another hurdle for the young forward to leap over in his development. As a result, the Islanders have played a total of 39 games on the year; Nino has only appeared in 16 of them.