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Continued: Nino Niederreiter does Wild's dirty work

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 17, 2013 - 8:07 AM

Niederreiter’s entry-level contract expires after this season, although Fletcher said the two sides didn’t start negotiations yet.

Stepping up

In 64 games with the Islanders, Niederreiter scored two goals and an assist. In 35 games with the Wild in more of a top-six role, Niederreiter is tied for fourth with six goals and fifth with 16 points.

Yeo is pleased with Niederreiter’s defensive-game improvement, and the Wild believes Niederreiter will evolve into a pure goal scorer.

At 6-2, 209 pounds, he’s a big, strong kid with what Yeo calls a “silly hard shot” who plays a north-south style of game. He has learned to compete harder in these high-traffic areas and protect the puck better along the wall.

“He’s been a goal scorer his whole life,” Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr said. “As he adjusts to the league and learns to buy space, he’ll score. [Mikael] Granlund’s injury really hurt that line because he’s the creative guy in the middle and Nino supports a quality center because he gets to the net and the way he shoots the puck is scary.

“I think we’re going to see a guy that keeps getting better, and as he becomes a little more selfish with his game, he’ll score goals in this league.”

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