Things had grown complicated with the New York Islanders, the franchise that selected him with the fifth pick of the 2010 NHL Draft. After bringing him to the NHL perhaps a bit too early, the team stashed Niederreiter in the American Hockey League for the entire 2012-13 season.
Still just 20 years old at the time, Niederreiter was traded to the Wild in June for Cal Clutterbuck and a third-round draft pick.
Now 21, Niederreiter has blossomed in Minnesota, already having totaled five times as many points in 29 games with the Wild as he did in 64 with the Islanders. It all started with a new beginning.
"It's confidence and an opportunity," Niederreiter said. "I came here and got an opportunity. When I was traded I knew it was going to be a new challenge."
The Penguins and Sharks will meet Thursday in a potential Stanley Cup Final preview at Consol Energy Center. Bylsma thinks his team will be tested against the best the Western Conference has to offer.
"I've probably seen them play a little more than Chicago," Bylsma said. "With all due respect to Chicago, I think [the Sharks are] maybe the best team in League right now in a lot of different areas. Their special teams are in the middle of the pack number-wise but their 21 even-strength goals from the [Joe] Thornton line, 20 from [Patrick] Marleau's line and Joe Pavelski is their third-line center.
"The way they come at you, the way they play, they're certainly, I think, the best team in the League right now."
When the teams played at Canadian Tire Centre on Nov. 28, the Tanev (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) went into the right corner behind his net to retrieve a dump-in with 5:50 left in the second period. That's when he was rocked by Zibanejad (6-2, 211), who delivered a textbook hip check that sent Tanev to the ice and allowed the Senators to create havoc in the Canucks zone.
Zibanejad, who is sixth among Ottawa forwards with 37 hits, got the fans going by putting his size to good use, and before the period was over he would show off his skill by beating Roberto Luongo on a rebound to bring the Senators within 4-2 in what eventually ended up a 5-2 loss.
Whether it was adjusting to smaller leg pads, acclimating to a new defensive system, or just trying to stay focused amidst ongoing contract negotiations, it has been a cumbersome first quarter of the season for New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
As a result, Lundqvist has experienced an unceremonious “first” in his eight-year NHL career: a losing record in back-to-back months. He went 3-5-0 with a 2.84 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in October, and then 5-6-0 with a 2.27 GAA and .924 save percentage in November.
That culminated with him riding the pine in consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 5-7, 2011.
Regardless, Lundqvist’s elite skills and overall consistency merited an extension that will make him the highest-paid goalie when his brand new seven-year, $59.5 million contract kicks in next season.
Knowing that Lundqvist’s workload will likely result in another 30-win campaign, expect his fantasy value to rise as the season continues. This is historically his weakest month in terms of save percentage (.913), but over his entire career, Lundqvist has a .921 save percentage in both January and March, a .924 mark in February, and a .928 mark in April.
The Sabres announced Thursday that Grigorenko would leave for Russia on Sunday.
The Russian Ice Hockey Federation on Tuesday had released a list of 29 players for a selection camp to be held Dec. 9-20 in Novogorsk, Russia, but Grigorenko's name was not on it.
Grigorenko, chosen No. 12 by the Sabres in 2012 NHL Draft, has played in the previous two WJC tournaments. He helped his country to a silver medal in 2012 after totaling two goals and five points in six games and a bronze in 2013 with two goals and six points in seven games.
The 19-year-old center had two goals and three points in 18 games for the Sabres this season. He has three goals and eight points in 43 NHL games.
The London Knights have seen their share of elite prospects come and go over the seasons.
The Knights are the only team from the Ontario Hockey League, in fact, to have at least one player selected in the NHL draft every year since 1983. London also has seen a League-high six players selected in each of the past two NHL drafts. It seems the Knights have been the top destination for the best players, as notable retired numbers include Rob Ramage (5), Dino Ciccarelli (8), Darryl Sittler (9), Brendan Shanahan (19), Brad Marsh (22), Rick Nash (61) and Corey Perry (94).
"The Knights are competitive every year and the facilities are second to none," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "There is an excellent coaching staff in place who have developed several players into NHL stars. The players are given every opportunity to be successful on the ice and in life. They're one of the best organizations in the [Canadian Hockey League]."
There are two young players hoping to continue that trend of pipeline dominance this June when the 2014 NHL Draft is held at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Defenseman Santino Centorame and left wing Christian Dvorak are both C-rated skaters on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list.
Slovenian national team coach Matjaz Kopitar has managed to be there for many of the most memorable moments in the decorated hockey career of his son, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. When Anze left their small town as a teenager to play with Sodertalje of the Swedish Elite League, dad was there to see him off. When Anze won the Stanley Cup in 2012 in Los Angeles, dad was there to celebrate.
Dad will be there again this February when Anze adds the title of Olympian to an impressive resume that includes first-round NHL draft pick, NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup champion. This time father and son will share in the historic moment together as Slovenia's hockey team competes for the first time in the Winter Olympics.
"It's definitely going to be huge for our country," Anze Kopitar said. "Even before we've had some Olympics goals and Olympic medals. In a country with 2 million people it's pretty impressive. It's pretty phenomenal how you can accomplish that coming out of such a small country."
Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad believes it isn't easy finding a player who takes great pride in a strong defensive game in this day and age of high-octane offense.
So he wants NHL scouts and general managers to know not only can he bring that style of game, but his versatility on the back end has also enabled him to expand his hockey repertoire.
"I think GMs are also looking for a guy who will jump into the rush and score goals, so versatility is a big thing," Ekblad told NHL.com. "I'm sure that's what they look for; every so often you have to throw your weight around too. But obviously being steady and knowing your position is important."
The Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils again Wednesday night and moved within one point of first place in the Atlantic Division. On Thursday, they'll be provided with an opportunity to leapfrog the Boston Bruins in the standings.
The Canadiens, who rallied for a 4-3 shootout win Wednesday, will host the first-place Bruins at Bell Centre, marking the first game of the season between the bitter Original Six rivals (7:30 p.m. ET, RDS, NESN, TSN-HABS).
Montreal has won three in a row and is 7-0-1 in its past eight games. Boston will play for the first time since Saturday, when it earned a 3-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.