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by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
The Islanders youngest prospect, Nino Niederreiter, celebrated his 18th birthday last Wednesday. Days from being a member of the 2011 draft class, his impressive first season in North America with the Portland Winterhawks, paired with his breakout performance on the International stage with the Swiss Under-20 Team and National Team, made him too appealing for the Isles to pass up with the fifth pick in the 2010 draft.

The Chur, Switzerland native may already be an extremely talented offensive player but he proved to still be eager to learn everything he can from the Islanders coaching staff on Day One of the Islanders Rookie Camp. On Monday, he joined 19 other rookies who were each determined to improve upon his game in preparation for the two rookie games in Boston later this week.

“I think [today’s practice] was great,” Niederreiter said. “The practice was more about getting to know the system. Coach Gordon helped us a lot. If we did something wrong, he talked about it. I think it was great.”

That’s exactly what Coach Gordon was aiming for. Instead of pushing his players through skating and conditioning drills, he had the rookies repeatedly practice different scenarios they would face in a game situation.

“[This Rookie Camp] is about playing as a team and getting acclimated to our system play and trying to put together a game plan for the two exhibition games in Boston,” Gordon said.

Niederreiter, who tallied 36 goals and 24 assists for 60 points in 65 games with the Winterhawks last season, did his best on his first day of camp, but still found learning some parts of the Islanders system challenging.

“I think it was kind of mentally tough to get everything right, but I think in the end it worked out pretty well for everyone,” Neiderreiter said. “I think we have a good chance to show that in the games in Boston too.”

When he’s in Boston, Niederreiter is excited to face Tyler Seguin, the skilled forward that the Bruins selected second overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

“I’m really excited to go to Boston and play against Tyler Seguin. He went second overall and I just want to see why he was drafted to high. I want to play hard against him.”

Anticipation is undoubtedly high as Niederreiter waits to battle Seguin for the puck, but Islanders fans are anxious to see that matchup as well.
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