In the first trade between the two clubs since 1972, the Rangers have acquired Finnish defenseman Jyri Niemi from the Islanders for a sixth-round pick in next month’s draft.

                            Niemi, who turns 20 in June, is 6-3, 210, and scored eight goals and added 21 assists in 50 games with Saskatoon of the WHL. The Islanders’ third-round pick in 2008, Niemi was Finland’s captain at this year’s Under-20 World Junior Championships.

                            The news came on the same day as another Finnish defenseman in the Rangers’ system, Ilkka Heikkinen, who had eight goals and 37 points in Hartford last season, agreed to a one-year contract with Sibir, of Russia’s KHL. Heikkinen, 25, told Newsday in February that he probably would return to Europe.  

                            The last swap between the clubs came on Nov. 14, 1972, when the Rangers sent right wing Ron Stewart to the Islanders for cash.

 

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                         (Need to check, but believe five or six of top 10 Isles prospects in The Hockey News' Future Watch are defensemen, including top 2, Calvin de Haan and Travis Harmonic. Neimi not on list, so...believe he is slated for the Pack with an entry-level deal. Remember: Corey Potter is a UFA. )

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                          This from a recent Hockey Futures....

                          
Jyri Niemi

Acquired 3rd round, 72nd overall, 2008

The big Finnish defenseman put up solid numbers in his third season with the Saskatoon Blades. He finished with eight goals and 21 assists in 50 games. Standing at 6’2, 202 lbs, Niemi’s major assets are his size, immediately followed by his cannon of a shot. He’s fairly effective in the offensive zone as a result. Representing Finland at the 2010 World Juniors, he put up three goals and two assists in six games. However, his defensive play needs a lot of work as he ended the tournament with a team-low minus-eight rating. In the WHL playoffs, he has two goals in eight games.

Turning 20 in June, he needs to start rounding out his game in order to make it to the NHL. His defensive positioning and awareness leave more to be desired, and he isn’t a very smooth skater. Though he has produced offensively at various levels, his lack of mobility may make that difficult in the pros. The Islanders have until June 1 to sign him.

 

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