The Islanders have dealt with veterans not wanting to play for the organization. Now they may be dealing with something much different -- a recent draft pick who wants out.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow received an email from Andre Rufener, the Switzerland-based agent for Nino Niederreiter, asking that Snow try and trade the Isles' top pick in the 2010 NHL draft. A source indicated that Snow has no plans to move Niederreiter, who currently leads the team's AHL affiliate in Bridgeport in scoring.
Rufener declined to comment on the trade request, which was first reported by ESPN.com.
Rufener sent Snow the email last week, during the Islanders' six-day training camp prior to the start of the current, 48-game season, voicing his displeasure with the team's handling of his client. The next day, Snow, along with his coaches from the Islanders and in Bridgeport, sat down with Niederreiter after the scrimmage between the Islanders and the Sound Tigers and discussed why Niederreiter did not get an invite to the NHL camp.
"All conversations with players remain private," Snow said, "but I will say that Nino has never told me that he's unhappy."
Niederreiter made the Islanders out of training camp in 2011-12, but things did not go well for the team or their rookie wing. Niederreiter suffered a groin injury at the end of a strong camp, sidelining him for a month; when he returned, Jack Capuano wanted to see Niederreiter work his way up the depth chart.
It never came to pass. Niederreiter, stuck without the option to play in the AHL due to still being a teenager, had one goal, no assists and a minus-29 rating in 55 games -- that was the second-lowest plus/minus rating in the league.
Even before this year's lockout, Snow and the Islanders were determined to allow Niederreiter to regain his confidence in Bridgeport before assuring him a spot on the team. Niederreiter has 19 goals and 36 points in the AHL and was named an All-Star; the shortened season and camp clinched Snow's decision to keep Niederreiter in Bridgeport through the start of the 2013 NHL season.
"He's playing 20-22 minutes a night, playing in all situations," Snow said when the Isles camp opened. "It's more conducive for him to be there at this point in time."