New Jersey Devils Should Pry Nino Niederreiter from Minnesota

Nov 10, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter (22) in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 10, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter (22) in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

Now that the Minnesota Wild have officially parted ways with head coach Mike Yeo, all eyes are on team GM Chuck Fletcher as the NHL Trade Deadline quickly approaches, and this might interest the New Jersey Devils.

The Wild, 3-5-2 in their last 10 games, have struggled mightily as of late. In a span of five weeks, the Wild have slipped from 7th place in the entire league all the way down to 22nd, and with a lot of veterans signed to lucrative contracts all under-performing and the Wild in some serious cap trouble, all signs point to Fletcher tearing their roster apart and re-tooling.

While New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero has remained adamant that he won’t part ways with prospects or draft picks to acquire rental players at the trade deadline, there’s still a possibility that the Devils and Wild can hook up at the trade deadline.

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Shero and the Devils are looking for the right player to become available – meaning a young forward who comes with team control.

One Minnesota Wild player who fits this description is 23-year old right-winger Nino Niederreiter.

While Niederreiter has certainly struggled remarkably this season, posting just 27 points (10 G, 17 A) in 58 games played during what was supposed to be his coming out party, he still has the potential to be one of the premier forwards in the National Hockey League. Last season he scored 24 goals and 37 points in 80 games for the Wild. The year before that he recorded 36 points and a career-best +12 rating.

The most interesting aspect of Niederreiter’s game is his ability to score big-time goals in big-time games. In 2014 the young right-winger tallied six playoffs points (3 G, 3 A) in 13 post-season games, including the game winning overtime goal in game seven of the Western Conference first round that lifted the Wild over their rival Colorado Avalanche. Last spring he tallied five points (4 G, 1 A) in 10 playoff games before the Wild were eliminated in the conference semi-finals by the eventual Stanley Cup Winning Chicago Blackhawks.

Also, Niederreiter, who was originally drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft will remain under team control until 2017, and even then he’ll only be a restricted free-agent, making him an ideal fit to the long-term plan of the New Jersey Devils.

From a statistical standpoint, Niederreiter would provide the Devils with a much-needed offensive boost.

5 v 5 the Devils are ranked close to the bottom of the league in every offensive category, including Goals for Percentage (48.0), Corsi for Percentage (46.4) and Corsi for Per 60 minutes (41.95) – which is actually the lowest mark in the entire NHL.

Despite his recent struggles, Nino Niederreiter has currently recorded 1.73 points per 60 minutes. The only member of the New Jersey Devils with a higher rating is the oft-injured Michael Cammalleri. As far as putting the puck in the back of the net, Niederreiter’s 0.63 goals per 60 minutes would rank him in the Devils top-six behind Cammalleri (0.98), Adam Henrique (0.88), Kyle Palmieri (0.84), Lee Stempniak (0.70) and Reid Boucher (0.67). As far as individual Corsi for Per 60 minutes, Niederreiter’s 12.12 rating would be second best on the Devils behind 22-year old Reid Boucher.

Now the Wild haven’t necessarily put Nino Niederreiter on the block per se, and Ray Shero would probably have to get pretty creative in order to acquire the young forward, but I believe the Devils should certainly explore the option.

The Devils have a number of salary cap-friendly contracts on the block who might be appealing to the Wild, including 24-year old defenseman Eric Gelinas, veteran defenseman David Schlemko and veteran forwards Lee Stempniak and Jordin Tootoo.

Also, the Devils have plenty of cap space to work with, so perhaps they can relieve the Wild of a mediocre contract and take a slight cap hit if it means packaging Niederreiter into a deal and bringing him over to New Jersey.

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What do you think Devils fans? Let us know in the comments below.