In a move that I highly endorse, the Wild traded fan favorite/effective agitator Cal Clutterbuck to the New York Islanders, along with a third round pick, in exchange for Islanders Top Prospect Nino Niederreiter. In addition to having a badass name, Niederreiter brings the Wild some size, speed, and scoring ability. A coup for Fletcher, whose team needed all three of those on this team. If all Nino needs is a change of scenery, the Wild have a Top-Six Power Forward to complement smaller guys like Granlund, Zucker, and even Parise (even though none of them, especially the latter two, have shown a propensity to shy from the dirty areas). In my opinion, a great move.
"El Nino"'s star has faded a bit, especially with the Islanders, mostly because of the way they handled him. He spent 2011-12 ill-advisedly playing the Islanders fourth line, where he struggled mightily, recording only a single goal. Disgruntled, Nino asked the Islanders for a trade before this season, and they punished him by keeping him in the AHL all year, where he did well for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, finishing two points behind Brock Nelson's team-leading 52 total.
That 50 points in 74 games represents a .67 PPG pace for Niederreiter, a respectable amount. Let's compare the production of him with some recent Wild AHL stars.
Mikael Granlund: 28 in 29 GP (.97)
Jason Zucker: 50 in 55 GP (.91)
Nino Niederreiter: 50 in 74 GP (.67)
Charlie Coyle: 25 in 47 GP (.53)
Zucker: 24 in 55 (.44)
Niederreiter: 28 in 74 (.38)
Granlund: 10 in 29 (.34)
Coyle: 14 in 47 (.30)
In terms of raw production, Niederreiter is right there with the top Wild prospects. What's especially intriguing is that his production clearly exceeded that of Charlie Coyle, whose big body and power game has made him the most effective NHLer thus far of Chuck Fletcher's prospects, able to keep up with Minnesota's top line. Interesting, as Nino has the size and speed to play an effective power game as well.
Anyway, unless there's something not widely known in his game that limits him to being hockey's equivalent of a "AAAA" player, it would seem that "El Nino" has to be considered right there with Granlund, Coyle, and Zucker as crown jewels of our young future.