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Niederreiter sticking with Islanders

by Brian Compton
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- El Nino has landed in New York.
Just four months after making history at the 2010 Entry Draft by becoming the highest Swiss-born player ever selected, Nino Niederreiter will become the youngest player in the history of the New York Islanders when they host the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
Niederreiter, who just turned 18 on Sept. 8, learned Wednesday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum that he officially has made the opening-night roster.
"It's a great feeling," said Niederreiter, who skated on a line with Doug Weight and Josh Bailey on Wednesday morning. "I was waiting for a call to (Isles GM) Garth (Snow), and I got to know that I'm on the team. I'm really happy about it."
While Niederreiter will be an Islander when the season opens Saturday, it doesn't necessarily he'll still be around for Game 2 on Monday against the Rangers. The Islanders have up to nine games to determine whether or not Niederreiter will stay in the NHL before the first year of his entry-level contract kicks in. If Niederreiter doesn't stick with the Isles, he'll be returned to Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
"Right now, it's a one-game thing," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "We'll just approach it one game at a time. I don't think there's any rush to make a decision. He's more than capable of playing … we've just got to make sure that it's the right decision and that he can get the right amount of ice time and the right amount of opportunity to be able to justify our decision to keep him here."
Niederreiter is fully aware of the contract situation, which is why he still feels as if he's with the Islanders on a tryout basis. With Michael Grabner now on board after being plucked off waivers Tuesday and with Matt Martin (who was returned to AHL Bridgeport) waiting in the wings, it's not as if the Isles don't have other options at forward.
"I still have to work hard," said Niederreiter, who scored 36 goals in 65 games for Portland last season, his first in North America. "I still hope I play in the opening game. I'm still dreaming about it. It's coming soon. Hopefully I get a chance to play. We'll see what's going to happen."
At 18 years and 31 days, Niederreiter will be the youngest player to compete in an NHL game since Jordan Staal made his debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006. Staal was 18 years and 25 days when the Pens earned a 4-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 5, 2006.
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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