Nino Niederreiter Would Be a Very Special Case

Just Nino crashing the net.

Patrick Kane, Jeff Skinner, Taylor Hall, Jakub Voracek, Magnus Paajarvi, Guillaume Latendresse, Mikkel Boedker, Milan Lucic, David Perron, Nikita Filatov.

Those are the wingers who, according to a Hockey-Reference query, have played 10 or more games in a season at age 18-19 in the NHL since the lockout. Their first-year stats appear below.

Among them, there's a trio of instant stars, a few players who look pretty dangerous after a few years of understandably awkward development, and a few for whom the jury is very much out. Then there's also Nikita Filatov. (Speaking of which, if you listed Josh Bailey as a wing instead of a center, he'd be on the list, with his 25 rookie year points ranking him just behind the Perron-Lucic-Boedkker block.)

Rk Player Season Age Tm Pos GP G A PTS GC* +/- PIM EV PP S S%
1 Patrick Kane 2007-08 19 CHI RW 82 21 51 72 25 -5 52 14 7 191 11
2 Jeff Skinner 2010-11 18 CAR RW 82 31 32 63 26 3 46 25 6 215 14.4
3 Taylor Hall 2010-11 19 EDM LW 65 22 20 42 17 -9 27 14 8 186 11.8
4 Jakub Voracek 2008-09 19 CBJ RW 80 9 29 38 13 11 44 9 0 101 8.9
5 Magnus Paajarvi 2010-11 19 EDM LW 80 15 19 34 13 -13 16 12 3 180 8.3
6 Guillaume Latendresse 2006-07 19 MTL RW 80 16 13 29 12 -20 47 11 5 121 13.2
7 Mikkel Boedker 2008-09 19 PHX LW 78 11 17 28 10 -6 18 9 2 116 9.5
8 Milan Lucic 2007-08 19 BOS LW 77 8 19 27 9 -2 89 7 1 88 9.1
9 David Perron 2007-08 19 STL LW 62 13 14 27 11 16 38 10 3 68 19.1
10 Nikita Filatov 2009-10 19 CBJ LW 13 2 0 2 1 0 8 2 0 11 18.2

Will Nino Niederreiter join this list of rarities? If he makes the Islanders in camp and stays for good, yes.

Where will he fit on this list? That depends on opportunity and development, of course, but expectations should be tempered. Lucic is seen as a beast now after a 30-goal season (one I doubt he'll repeat), but note his modest rookie totals.

We've talked about Boedker, how he is closer to the Bailey camp than any other peers there.

Niederreiter was drafted to be a goal scorer in the power forward mold -- one who can use his body to carve out space for a shot that should make him a top-six winger. That doesn't mean fantasy wonks should be predicting 17 goals for him as a rookie -- nor that fans should assume he'll get top-six minutes or bust.

Often wingers his age are eased in. Often they are rushed, only to discover they should have been eased. If he's in the NHL this season, it will be a very important year for Niederreiter. But not because he needs to be a game-changing player now. Rather, because he needs to use this year to learn how to be a game-changing player later.

Without pr*j*ct*ng, how many goals do you expect from a full season of Nino?

*  *  *

*Goals Created is a Hockey-Reference formula. I don't see it cited often, so take it as you will, another attempt to rejig the worth of a player's contribution. They explain it as: calculated by adding goals scored to 0.5 times assists, then multiplying by team goals divided by team goals plus 0.5 times team assists. For example in 2006-07, Sidney Crosby had 36 goals and 84 assists. The Penguins as a team had 267 goals and 468 assists. Thus Crosby is credited with (36 + 0.5 * 84) * (267 / (267 + 0.5 * 468)) = 41.57 goals created. Note that the sum of player goals created is equal to the sum of player goals scored for all teams.

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