Islanders first-round draft pick Nino Niederreiter has made the team out of training camp and will likely stay with the team for at least the first nine games of the season. The 18-year-old Swiss winger, who was selected fifth overall at this June's draft, will dress for the team's regular-season opener against Dallas on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Niederreiter joins the ranks of fellow first-round draft picks John Tavares (2009) and Josh Bailey (2008) who made the team out of camp.
"It's a great feeling," Niederreiter said after receiving the news. "I was waiting for a call from Garth and now that I've gotten to know that I've made the team, I'm really happy about it."
"He's proven he's capable of playing," coach Scott Gordon said. "Now we just have to make sure that he gets enough ice time, enough opportunity to justify our decision."
Gordon didn't give any indication about the team's long-term commitment to Niederreiter--If he struggles at the NHL level the Islanders can send him back to his junior team (Portland Winterhawks, WHL) without financial penalty--and said they will play it by ear.
"Right now, it's a one-game thing," Gordon said.
To make room on their 23-man roster--the league-mandated deadline is at 3 p.m. today--forward Matt Martin was sent to Bridgeport and defenseman Calvin de Haan was sent back to his junior team--the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.
In addition to the foot injury that set him back a week, Martin found his roster spot a casualty of Niederreiter and Grabner's addition. Gordon said he hopes Martin can get back to speed soon and sharpen his game while in Bridgeport.
"With his foot injury he was a little behind the eight ball," Gordon said. "This is an opportunity for him to go and get his game back."
And although de Haan came on toward the end of camp, the organization felt he could use more seasoning in junior and time to mature physically.
With the Islanders depth on defense this year, de Haan couldn't battle into a top-4 spot, so they felt his development would best be served by an additional year in Oshawa.
"This year, with Wiz, Jurcina and Mark Eaton, we obviously added an element of experience on our back end. We also have Jack Hillen and Andrew MacDonald who are now full-NHL pros. With [Martinek] coming back for us, and Bruno Gevais as well we have some depth on D," Gordon said. "[de Haan] got better every day, but it still wasn't enough to take out a guy where we know what he will bring."
As expected, the Islanders will carry eight defensemen. Enforcer Trevor Gillies and agitator Jon Sim, both on two-way contracts, also made the team.
Michael Grabner, who the Islanders claimed off waivers from Florida yesterday, skated with the team today. Scott Gordon said he will not play in the team's first two games--Saturday against Dallas or Monday against the Rangers.
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