Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chalk Talk: Nino Niederreiter Is Pretty Good

During this past NHL Draft, Chuck Fletcher sent Cal Clutterbuck and the team's third round pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Nino Niederreiter. The trade was hailed by both sides as a success as the Isles got a good checking forward (yeah...ok) and the Wild got a forward who needed a fresh start with a lot of upside.

We are just past the quarter mark of the season, and this trade should be viewed as a heavy success for Minnesota. Niederreiter is that good. 

So far this season, Niederreiter has shown he can mix good skills with physical play (i.e. David Backes). He has become a punishing presence in the corners and on the end boards, winning most puck battles because of his physical stature. 

Lets take a closer look at just how good he really is.

11/07/2013 vs Washington

Zone Entry: Here we see Niederreiter waiting in the high slot area as Karl Alzner and Jason Pominville get set to battle for the puck. Pominville was successful in pushing the puck back down in the corner, and Niederreiter gives chase as him and Alzner set to do battle.

Point of Contact: Niederreiter and Alzner collide as they battle for the puck. Meanwhile, Nino draws the other Caps defenseman John Carlson down below the red line, and as you can see it leaves the entire slot area wide open.

Result: After taking the puck from Alzner and a slick move around Carlson, Niederreiter is able to draw them both towards the corner leaving Granlund in the faceoff circle with a clear shot at the net. Nino was able to throw the puck out to Granlund for a shot. Granlund eventually scores on a rebound after Jason Pominville's rebound attempt was stopped and the puck went to Granlund out front.

11/23/2013 vs Winnipeg

This one is pretty self explanatory, but we see Niederreiter crash the net here as Parise enters the zone. Parise sends one over to Scandella who sends a slap shot on net and Niederreiter cleans up the rebound while falling over.

11/29/2013 vs Colorado

This play starts out with former Gophers Erik Haula and Erik Johnson doing battle behind the net, with Haula in control of the puck. Niederreiter runs to the front of the net where Tyson Barrie is sitting, as he defends his goaltender.

Point of Possession: After Haula and Johnson went into the corner, Niederreiter dips down below the red line and takes the pass from Haula. Barrie is still above the goal line, but is moving down and will begin to chase Niederreiter who has ample time and space and a slot area wide open.

Result: Niederreiter continues to move into the corner, where Barrier gives him a large cushion to work with. After seeing the slot area was wide open, Dany Heatley decides to crash the net as three defenders are not looking at the puck. Also worth noting here that Giguere went down after thnking that Niederreiter was perhaps going to try a wrap around. In the end, Niederreiter throws the puck out to Heatley who has half the net to shoot at for an easy goal.

As you can see, there is a good mixture of skilled and physical play resulting in some goals here. Pay close attention to him for one whole game and see just how much he does.

The Islanders might like this trade now, but when Clutterbuck's deal runs out in four years, they will probably be kicking themselves for not taking care of Niederreiter. He is just that good.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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