Niemi who was the New York Islander's 2008 3rd round pick was not going to sign with the Islanders for whatever reasons but was quickly signed by the Rangers to an entry level contract. This one we have to say is a bad move by the Islanders and a very good move by the Rangers.
We got to see a lot of Niemi last season because of Sam Klassen who was Niemi's teammate on the Blades. Niemi is more an offensive minded defender who does need some work but his potential makes it worth the effort to work with him.
Sam Klassen was kind enough to say a few words about the Ranger's Niemi to us:
It will be cool to have a team mate at rangers camp! Jyri is a big strong kid with skill. I definitely enjoyed being his team mate. He has got one heck of a slap shot He doesn't shy away from the rough stuff and can handle himself quite well in a fight. All around he is a good player and a good guy!
At 6'2, 202 at 19 is also a plus in Niemi's favor but he does need to work on a few areas in order to make it to the NHL. We start with his shot as it is a bazooka of a shot but is it almost rarely on target.
When Niemi is on target the shot is either going to go in or it is going to result in a juicy rebound for a teammate. We also want to see Niemi become more consistent with his play as he has the talent but has appeared to defer to others when his own game is just as good.
We do not expect Niemi to make the jump to the NHL next season and next season will be counted on to be a key performer for the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL. We also like that Niemi is going to be coached by Lorne Molleken who has a very good track record record of developing NHL defensemen.
Funny thing it used to be that the easiest article that I had to write for the Blueshirt Bulletin was the end of season prospect awards. Back in 2004-05 there were barely enough prospects to talk about let alone say someone was the best at much.
Times have changed as this year was full of good prospects, outstanding plays and a very bright future for Ranger fans to look forward to. What is frustrating to have to keep watching is for every smart move the Rangers make with the prospects that they make 2-3 bad moves at the NHL level.
The Rangers keep themselves out of developing into a serious playoff contender by failing to understand the most basic of logic. It will never be about how much money you spend but how well you spend it.
(Niemi courtesy of the Saskatoon Blades)