Just one year removed from hearing Islanders General Manager Garth Snow call his name as the first overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, forward John Tavares
stood on the floor of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum alongside thousands of fans at the Islanders 2010 Draft Party, anxiously eyeing the scoreboard’s live feed of this year’s event.
When Nino Niederreiter
became the Islanders’ first round selection, fifth overall, in Friday’s 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Tavares had nothing but praise for his future teammate.
“Garth and our scouting staff have done their homework and believe this guy is going to be a great player for us,” said Tavares. “I know he had a great World Junior and I'm excited about that and what he did on the big stage. He was at the world championships as well.”
It would have been a tall order for the Islanders faithful to match their ovation from last year when Tavares’ name was called, but the 19 year old was excited to experience this year’s celebration first hand.
“I thought it was great. I think all the fans were excited about our pick. They may not know much about Nino or hear about him as much as maybe some of the other guys because he is European, but like I said he had a great World Juniors as an underage player, and represented Switzerland at the World Championship, which isn't an easy thing to do at his age. He had a good season in the WHL and has proven he is a big guy who can make things happen out there. Size is something that we need up front, and he is going to bring it to our hockey club with a lot of skill.”
Moments after expressing his excitement, Tavares had his first chance to chat on the phone with the newest member of the Islanders.
His advice to the seventeen year old was simple.
“Just rest up,” he explained to reporters. “Just make sure you get in the best shape you can for the season and prepare yourself the best you can.”
“He is going to lean on a lot of guys that have been here for a while and that's what I did this year, so maybe just don't be shy and ask a lot of questions and if you need help, everyone is here to help. We all have the same goal, wanting to win the championship and raise the Cup over our head, so don't be shy and come in with a lot of confidence.”
One player Tavares expects Niederreiter to lean on is Swiss countryman Mark Streit
I think having a guy like Mark Streit
from the same homeland, it's going to be huge for him to bring him in and really learn what it's like in the NHL and on the Island and kind of help him find his way.”
Tavares knows a thing or two about the expectations that come with being a high draft pick, and he’s confident that Niederreiter will be able to handle the pressure.
“With Nino, there are obviously a lot of expectations. A lot of that comes with (being a high draft pick), but guys like him have been trained for this and have prepared for it.”
“Come into camp with a great attitude. Come humble, but always be open to the guys. They are always looking to help and want to make you feel comfortable and help you make the adjustment.”