When we tallied votes for this before training camp began, I figured by the time we got around to Nino Niederreiter his NHL play would have given us a strong indication of how right or wrong we were. Well, stuff happens.
Niederreiter can be currently considered a pro, doing a conditioning stint in the AHL after missing the start of the season with a groin injury. But while he's penciled in and is currently on the 23-man NHL roster, he can still go back to juniors this season if things don't quite work out.
The latter scenario looks unlikely at this point, but it's a reflection of where he is in his career and on our Top 25 Under 25 list: At that junction between the well-regarded pro-aspirant prospect and the few U25 Islander properties who already have established spots on the NHL roster.
If Nino check in Bridgeport for the full two weeks to see what condition his condition is in, there's a full slate of Sound Tigers games in that time. And then ... the Islanders host the Rangers Tuesday, Nov. 15.
It'd be tough if he comes up while the team is still struggling offensively; that's a lot of hope placed on a very young player's shoulders. You don't want to be in the position of hoping a 19-year-old is the tonic you need when it's the regulars not named John Tavares who are failing to produce.
Whatever happens in the next few weeks, Niederreiter's re-introduction will be a fun exercise: Does he stay a pro? Does he show he still needs plenty of work? Does he show enough to indicate he can get the rest through on-the-job training?
And most importantly for this post, will his performance move him up or down this list the next time we poll?
Selfishly, beyond the ebb and flow of this season's fortunes, my curiosity about how youngsters like Nino develop is what ensures it's never a dull day in Islanders Country. I know where I see Nino today. I've no idea where I'll see him in January.
How We Voted
|Top 25 Under 25||mikb||M11||CIL||Dom||KQ||Web/Mark
For this first edition, we polled LHH authors Keith, WebBard (Mark D), mikb, myself, and two particularly prospect-focused LHH regulars, CanadianIslesLifer and MatthewM11. We wanted enough to get a decent number of voters but not so much that we make the first run unwieldy. It is absolutely unscientific but with varied enough votes to get us thinking about who are the best hockey players now, balanced with who has the best potential/value long-term.
Niederreiter's average rank is fifth, but thanks to varying votes on the remaining four, he sits 6th on our preseason poll.
Previous Posts in This Top 25 Islanders Under 25 Series
- Those who didn't make the Top 25
- #25: Anton Klementyev, D
- #24: Not to be Pedantic, but is it Andrei or Andrey Pedan, D
- #23: Mark Katic (D) shoulders the burden
#22: Rhett Rakhshani (W)
- #21: Matt Martin (LW), budding 'stache
- #20: Johan Sundström, C
- #19: David Ullström, C/W
- #18: Scott Mayfield, D
- #17: Kirill "A" Petrov, W
- #16: Feisty Casey Cizikas, C
- #15: Towering Anders Nilsson, G
- #14: Roloson Reward Ty Wishart, D
- #13: Oklahoman Matt Donovan, D
- #12: Brock Nelson, C/LW/Reverend
- #11: Kirill Kabanov is a Thing to Say, W
- #10: Calvin de Haan, D
- #9: Anders Lee, C/W
- #8: Josh Bailey, C, 220 Games and Counting
- #7: Kevin Poulin, g: They let another goalie in?
The Top 25 under 25 is an idea conceived by Oilers blog Copper & Blue and copied elsewhere, incorporated here by popular demand. We cut it off at players who were under 25 going into this season, so Andrew MacDonald, having just turned 25 this month, barely misses eligibility