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Niederreiter still aglow about being an Islander

Nino Niederreiter takes a shot on goal during

Nino Niederreiter takes a shot on goal during Islanders prospect camp at Nassau Coliseum. (July 7, 2010) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Heading into his first prospect camp since being drafted No. 5 overall by the Islanders, Nino Niederreiter received some sage advice over lunch last week while back home in Zurich, Switzerland.

"Enjoy the experience."

Those words of wisdom came from Islanders defenseman - and fellow Swiss - Mark Streit.

Streit dined with Niederreiter on Monday and filled him in on what to expect, both on and off the ice in the coming weeks.

"He just told me to enjoy myself and about how the organization works. To me, it just seems perfect," Niederreiter said, flashing the same effervescent smile as the day he was drafted less than two weeks ago. "For me it's great. I have someone from the same country who speaks the same language, it's great."

Niederreiter has reason to be upbeat. The 17-year old winger, who had 36 goals and 24 assists in his rookie season for WHL's Portland Winterhawks, said he's still soaring from the draft and anxious about making a good impression.

"Right after the draft, I was still surprised to be taken at No. 5 and to be part of the Islanders. Then, I was getting really excited for the camp and now I'm just having fun and getting ready to do something special."

What does he hope to prove?

"That it was a good choice to pick me at No. 5," he said.

It sounds like he already has some people within the organization convinced.

"I like his size, his skating ability and his nose around the net," coach Scott Gordon said. "It's the first day so I'm not going to go over the top about it, but I was excited the day we drafted him and I'm excited now."

Power forward Matt Martin, who skated on a line with Niederreiter and David Ullstrom at Nassau Coliseum, was similarly impressed.

"He's got a lot of skill and he's a big body as well. You combine the two and that could play a big advantage," Martin said.

Whether Niederreiter is ready to make the team out of camp and play in the NHL remains to be seen.

Gordon said they'll observe him this week, but primarily assess where he belongs based upon his performance in training camp and exhibition games.

"I'm in a great situation," Niederreiter said. "I can go back to Portland for a year or I could be here, which would be fantastic. They have great coaches here and I can learn a lot," Niederreiter said.

Ultimately, Niederreiter will control his own destiny, Gordon said.

"We'll let [him] make the determination."


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