UNIONDALE, N.Y. – 2010 first-round pick Nino Niederreiter will make his season debut Tuesday night for the New York Islanders. 2006 first-rounder Kyle Okposo will sit.
Niederreiter rejoined the team after his two-week conditioning stint with AHL Bridgeport ended following Sunday’s game. The 19-year-old from Switzerland looked good in preseason, mostly skating with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, but went down with a groin injury in the late stages of camp. He skated Tuesday morning and said he “felt great.”
Coach Jack Capuano hinted at the morning skate that Niederreiter, the fifth player taken in the 2010 NHL Draft, would dress, but made no commitment and didn’t hint who might sit in his stead. The odd man out turned out to be Okposo, who has no goals, three assists and a minus-7 rating in 14 games. Okposo, the seventh player chosen in 2006, started the season on the second line with Frans Nielsen in the middle and Michael Grabner on the left, but was dropped down to the third line when Capuano remodeled his lines 10 days ago.
The Islanders hope Niederreiter can provide them with a spark – they are 1-6-3 in their last 10 games since beating the Rangers 4-2 in their big-city rivals’ last visit to the Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 15. Since then. The Rangers are 9-2-1, including their current six-game winning streak.
Capuano will also make a change on defense, dressing Milan Jurcina and scratching Mark Eaton.