Nino Niederreiter knows he'll get a serious evaluation once the Islanders' training camp begins Saturday. The 19-year-old made it through nine regular-season games last year before the team decided he'd be better off with another season in junior hockey.
Now, Niederreiter doesn't need to sweat games like Monday night's rookie game against the Bruins at Nassau Coliseum. But the right wing still wants to show he can sweat the small stuff before the big challenges come over the next three weeks. He had a pair of goals Monday night to show he's not slacking off.
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"I was in the same situation last year, but everything felt way different," Niederreiter said. "I didn't know what to expect one day to the next. This year is just a little different, I feel more comfortable. It's great preparation for the main camp. I'll have two games and that will definitely help."
He scored the first Islanders goal Monday night off a quick-handed feed from Ryan Strome, who was put between Niederreiter and college free-agent Tyler McNeely when the rookies convened for their camp Saturday.
Niederreiter was the fifth overall pick in 2010 and Strome was the No. 5 pick this year.
"They're talented kids. You talk about rookie [minicamp] not really being an evaluation, but now, we're looking," coach Jack Capuano said. "We're playing against an opposition. It's a good time for us to look at these players and see what they bring to the table."
What Capuano and the staff want to see from Niederreiter is attention to detail. The little things that turn a teenage scorer into a fully realized NHL player.
"I want to see him move his feet, get pucks to the net, get his body to the net, defend properly," Capuano said. "The two of them [Strome and Niederreiter] made some good plays with the puck, but five-on- five, in all three zones, there's some work that needs to be done."
John Persson, Kirill Kabanov and Calvin de Haan had the other goals for the Isles rookies in an 8-5 loss. Mikko Koskinen was not sharp in giving up seven goals on 14 shots. And the injury bug bit even in this game, with promising wing Rhett Rakhshani leaving with a concussion after a hit in the first period.
Notes & quotes: Among the few folks in the stands was Alexei Yashin, who has been skating with the Isles veterans the past few weeks. The former Isles captain sat with owner Charles Wang and general manager Garth Snow for a bit. Yashin still has no contract in the KHL or NHL for next season.