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Capuano on Nino: His time is now

Islanders winger Nino Niederreiter carries the puck against

Islanders winger Nino Niederreiter carries the puck against the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum. (Oct. 11, 2010) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano is still going through the process of introducing himself to new draft picks and getting to know the many invites at camp this week, but there are a few players he's already been thinking about.

Namely, 2010 first round pick Nino Niederreiter.

"Come September he's going to be one of the guys pushing hard to make the team," Capuano said "He knows his time is now."

Niederreiter, who was sent back to his junior team after nine games with the Islanders last season, said this camp feels totally different from last July. He knows the coaching staff, he knows his fellow prospects on the ice and, most importantly, he knows what lies ahead in the months to come.

"Last year was the first time I really played against men; now I know what to expect," he said. " I probably would've been fine last year physically, but mentally I wasn't perfectly prepared. Now I feel much stronger mentally."

Niederreiter told Newsday that he believed the team made the right choice last year to send him back to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL after his short stint with the big club.

"Those nine games--it was a great experience--but going back allowed me to go to Portland, become more of a leader and help younger guys on our team, " Niederreiter said."That really helped my own development."

This week's showcase will be the Swiss winger's first chance to show he belongs in the NHL, but he'll have plenty more opportunities to compete for a spot come training camp in September.

"I'm not afraid of youth," Capuano said. "Never have been."

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