Normally, that might bug Nino Niederreiter, who voiced his frustrations at times during a trying rookie season with the Islanders last year. Now 20 years old, he's eligible to play in Bridgeport, and that's where he's been since the lockout began. The lockout's over, but general manager Garth Snow decided to keep Niederreiter in Bridgeport rather than bring him to the week-long training camp.
"Of course I was disappointed, but I've learned that there are things you cannot control and you can't worry about those," Niederreiter said after scoring a nifty goal for the Sound Tigers in the scrimmage with the Isles. "I promised myself I wouldn't get frustrated about those things this year. All I can control is what I do on the ice."
What he's been doing in his second pro season seemed enough to warrant a spot on the Isles to open the 48-game season. Niederreiter leads Bridgeport and is tied for sixth in the AHL with 19 goals and 36 points, that after scoring one goal and recording one point in 55 games as an Islander last season.
His goal Wednesday night was emblematic of the type of power forward the Isles envision him to be: He collected the puck along the right-wing boards, bulled his way past Jon Landry and then Matt Carkner and roofed a rebound of his own shot over Evgeni Nabokov.
"He's doing all the right things," coach Jack Capuano said. "Garth's got a plan for him, on track for his development. He played hard, scored a good goal, went to the net -- he's right on track."
But not yet back to Long Island. The Islanders have hurt themselves and a couple of their top prospects in recent seasons with too-quick promotions, and now the plan is patience.
Niederreiter and Brock Nelson, another quality forward, stayed in Bridgeport when the Isles' camp was assembled, and Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart, the team's top picks each of the last two seasons, will likely get no more than a cursory look through the early part of the season before going back to their junior clubs.
Said Niederreiter: "My confidence is back. It was great playing in the AHL to start the season, and I'm going to focus on that."
Notes & quotes: D Lubomir Visnovsky will report to the Islanders, according to his agent. Neil Sheehy, Visnovsky's agent, told Newsday that Visnovsky's family is still trying to resolve his son's health issue, and it may be roughly two weeks until the defenseman is ready . . . Bridgeport's team won the scrimmage, 5-3, with three power-play goals. Rick DiPietro and Nabokov were the goaltenders for both teams, switching sides in the middle part of the game. DiPietro was sharp in the Bridgeport net, making 20 saves in 30 minutes. About 3,000 fans came to the Coliseum for the free event.
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