Have to admit that for the past two weeks I've thought Nino Niederreiter was a lock to stay with the Islanders. The Islanders have spoken highly of their first-round draft pick's size and skill. They have even compared the Swiss rookie to Josh Bailey in his first year and indicated Niederreiter is further along than Bailey was at this point two years ago.
Two things recently have made me reconsider my stance.
1) Niederreiter told me yesterday he thinks he's going back. Now maybe he was just trying to be modest, maybe he was trying to mentally prepare himself for the possibility of being sent back, and maybe he misread a numbers situation that included the still-injured Rob Schremp and emergency-recalled Matt Martin both practicing with the team yesterday. Regardless, that was his prediction.
2) I just took another listen to Scott Gordon's pre-game quotes. Granted, he did say he'd be comfortable if Niederreiter stayed. But, he also said this:
"I don't think it's so much what we're looking for from him, I think it's ultimately what's best for our organization. When we kept Josh here, we looked at our depth chart at center and [asked] 'Where would he be in two years if he stay with us versus going back to junior? At the end of the day, we thought moving forward he'd be better served staying with us. He's been able to emerge quicker than had he gone back to junior. In Nino's situation, it's different in that we do have some prospects in Bridgeport, like Matt Martin and Jesse Joensuu and Rhett Rakhshani that are in a position now to get called up. And then also we have some other players that are part of our organization like Kyle [Okposo} and Rob [Schremp], so it's a different set of circumstances."
*** So, yes, I realize I'm really straddling the fence at this point. Should be interesting once this is finally settled!