Minnesota Wild F Nino Niederreiter has been playing well in 2016-17, but his production in January has been spectacular
Minnesota Wild F Nino Niederreiter has been trying to find his footing in the NHL for quite some time. He was drafted fifth overall in 2010 by the New York Islanders, but never managed to crack the NHL roster.
He was eventually traded to the Minnesota Wild in June 2013 in exchange for Cal Clutterbuck and a 3rd round pick, and wound up spending most of 2013-14 in a third line role.
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Turning a New Leaf
He was given some time as a top-six forward, but his inconsistencies forced him out of the role. Players like Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle took much bigger leaps in their game, which was an even bigger hurdle for the young Swiss.
Fast forward to 2016-17, and Nino Niederreiter is having the best season of his career. He set a career high in points last year with 43, but his 24 goals, eight power play points, and 5 game-winning goals were career bests in 2014-15.
This season, Niederreiter has 14 goals and 31 points in just 44 games. He has maintained a career best plus-18 rating, and should surpass his career high with seven powerplay points already this year. The Wild look like one of the best teams in the league and Niederreiter has become a major part of their success.
Consistency is the Name of the Game
Niederreiter has shown flashes of excellence in the past, but this is his best showing yet. Can he keep it up? That will be the question heading into the second half of the season. He is a physical player and relies heavily on his strength and endurance. As the season progresses, Niederreiter could find it difficult to keep up with the NHL’s best. However, with his offensive touch and significant help from his teammates, Niederreiter may turn a new leaf after all.
So far in January, Niederreiter has five goals and three assists in eight games, and looked great against the Arizona Coyotes. He finished the game with two goals and an assist, which included the game-winning goal. He has four points on the power play, and is showing some confidence with 26 shots on net. Needless to say, Niederreiter is having one of the best months of his career.
After solidifying a top-six role, Nino Niederreiter is now playing alongside Eric Staal and Coyle. Both players are having impressive seasons, and it seems to be rubbing off on their Swiss teammate. Staal is currently experiencing a much-needed second win, and Coyle has been an impressive two-way winger all season. Both players are flirting with point-per-game status, but their chemistry is even more fascinating, and it looks like Niederreiter will be the missing link for the near future.