NHL 2010 Top Draft Prospects: Nino Niederreiter
May 21, 2010 1 Comment
In this past Olympics, Switzerland shocked many people, almost defeating both the United States and Canada en route to a medal-less showing. However, as much as surprises and underdogs are great, Switzerland is not quite a hockey factory. In fact, quite the opposite. The only impact NHL player who hails from Switzerland is Mark Streit of the New York Islanders.
That may all change in a few months, when Nino Niederreiter is drafted into the NHL.
Niederreiter, who was selected by the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, was such a coveted prospect, that prior to the 2009 Import Draft, the Winterhawks traded two future picks in the Bantam Draft for the right to swap first round picks with the Moose Jaw Warriors for the purpose of drafting Niederreiter.
One of the famous highlights of Niederreiter’s career is during a skills competition this year, in which he flipped off one of his gloves, then snapped the puck top shelf with one hand.
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound left winger put up 60 points in 65 games in his rookie year, a number that includes 36 goals. He was also a plus-11 rating, which speaks to his defensive abilities.
Niederreiter had almost no problems adjusting to the North American game, as he came out strong for the Winterhawks and continues to finish strong. He currently has 16 points in 13 playoff games for Portland.
The Chur, Switzerland native is being compared to Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes. Niederreiter has great speed, is big, has great hands and is willing to go into the corner to bang bodies.
“He has adjusted to the North American game without missing a beat,” one scout said to NHL.com. “He plays the entire ice surface and back checks very well. He has an above average wrist shot and creates his own time and space with stickhandling. A sure fire first rounder in my opinion.”
“He’s got everything you could want in an NHLer,” the scout said, “Good size, good skating, great awareness, good strength, he’s got a mean streak, soft hands, great hockey sense and a shot that goes in.”
Niederreiter has been very consistent this season, and his Central Scouting rankings reflect that. Having been ranked sixth among WHL skaters in the fall, he was put at the number 14 spot among North American players in the midterm rankings, then jumped two spots to his current standing at number 12 when the final rankings came out.
Needless to say, whichever team drafts him will indeed be reaping the benefits of Niederreiter’s talents.
Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com. In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News, he has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at BergHockey24@gmail.com.