Nino Niederreiter became the highest-drafted Swiss player in the NHL after being selected fifth by the Islanders tonight.
Although Islanders general manager Garth Snow said he tried trading down one, two and even three spots, "it didn't come to fruition" and he didn't want to risk missing out on Niederreiter.
“He’s a big power forward, he can score goals, he’s played extremely well in big games and we feel he’s going to be a great fit for our group,” Snow said.
Niederreiter could hardly contain his excitement when asked about joining the Islanders.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. Even now I can’t believe it’s happening, that I’m the highest [drafted] Swiss player. It’s just a great feeling,” Niederreiter said, without even attempting to suppress a beaming smile. “I couldn’t be happier to be part of the Islanders. With another Swiss guy there, Mark Streit, it’s going to be great.”
A tad surprising? Maybe. Some people clearly expected Snow to jump at the chance of taking either defensemen Cam Fowler or Brandon Gormley. And although Snow did try to move up from his second-round 35th overall pick, to grab one of them once they started to slide, Niederreiter was their guy all along.
Even Niederreiter admitted he wasn't expecting to go so soon.
“I was still thinking about Cam Fowler being an Islander and now I’m an Islander and I’m just so happy about that.”
Niederreiter, who finished with 36 goals and 24 points for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, said he hopes to make a significant impact with his new team:
“I’m trying to be a star one day. I think I’m a two-way player with skills, that’s good defensively and at the end, I just want to be a goal-scorer.”
UPDATE: Snow said they are currently trying to trade up from No. 35 to get a guy they like in the 20's so stay tuned.
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