Jyri Niemi

Well Isle Be

We’re almost two thirds of the way through our Rangers Countdown series, but there’s still some intriguing profiles ahead. The regular season is now just fifteen days away for the New York, and we should have a much better sense of the roster by the close of this weekend’s games.

Defenseman Jyri Niemi is likely to be one of those sent down and is the subject of today’s Rangers Countdown profile.

Player Profile
The Rangers profited a little from the Islanders’ misfortune, picking up Niemi last Spring for the relatively discounted price of a 6th round pick. The then 19 year old Finn and the Islanders were not going to come to be able to come to terms, so off he was shipped.

Locked up now to a three year entry level contract, Niemi is expected to head back to the WHL to play for the Saskatoon Blades in his final year.

In acquiring Niemi, the Blueshirts have added a prospect with some solid offensive upside, but one that needs to become more consistent with his game. Described by team mate and fellow Ranger prospect Sam Klassen as a “strong kid with skill” – as quoted by Prospect Park.

Coming into the WHL, the 6-3 206lb blueliner made an immediate impression with his offense, picking up 14 goals and 20 assists in 49 games with the Blades, and earning a 3rd round selection from the Islanders. He missed several games that first season with a jammed wrist, fractured his back in the following year, and then was hurt during the U20 World Junior Championships in 2009.

Since setting career highs for goals and points in that first season, he has been unable to take the next step, pretty much holding steady on points, while tailing off goal-wise.

In 2010-11 the expectation is that he’ll bounce back a little, playing as a 20 year old against players generally smaller and younger than he, perhaps competing for a job in Hartford the following season.

2009-10 Statistics
Team: Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Stats: 8 goals, 21 assists and 67 penalty minutes in 50 games

Prediction
Team: Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Stats: 11 goals, 25 assists 62 penalty minutes in 70 games

Trivia
Niemi became just the second player traded between the Rangers and Islanders, following up a 1972 deal that sent Ron Stewart to the Island in exchange for cash.

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