Despite being on the third line for most of the season, Nino Niederreiter once again proved why he is a key piece to the Hurricanes forward group.
Nino Niederreiter 2021-2022 By The Numbers
NHL Seasons: 10
Scoring: 24 goals, 20 assists, 44 points in 75 games
Playoff Scoring: 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points in 14 games
Advanced Statistics: 60.04 CF%, 58.91 SCF%, 62.36 xGF%, 67.26 GF%
Average TOI: 13:22 ES, 1:28 PP, 0:00 SH
Contract Status: Pending UFA
When you think about the consistent forwards for the Carolina Hurricanes game in and game out you likely think Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho for polar opposite reasons. Some would rightfully throw in Teuvo Teravianen to that conversation but many would overlook one of the most important pieces of the Rod Brind’Amour era. Nino Niederreiter has been as consistent as they come for the Hurricanes and he has become a major force for Carolina as they went from ten-year playoff-drought to perennial contender.
2021-2022 was another perfect example of that for Niederreiter. He put up 44 points while almost entirely playing on the third line with Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast and averaging just over 13 minutes per game . He was the offense force on a defensive line that was tasked night in and night out with shutting down the top talents of the opposition. Some would see that as a major demotion from when Niederreiter first got to Carolina and was part of the Aho-Teravainen-Niederreiter top line that lead the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018-19, but Niederreiter would never complain. He thrives in any role he’s been asked to play and his line with Staal and Fast easily stole multiple games for Carolina this year.
Niederreiter is a combination of part-sniper, part-power forward, and part-grinder who finds a way to get to the dirty areas and win battles. Always finding himself in the right place at the right time like in this play:
— NHL (@NHL) January 26, 2022
His willingness to go to the front of the net allows him to get a rebound on his original scoring chance and then score. This play is also a perfect of example of how the Fast-Staal-Niederreiter could beat you. Grinding away at the opposing team and capitalizing when they could.
2021-22 marked the 6th time in his career that Niederreiter scored at least 20 goals and his 24 goals ranked third on the Hurricanes this season. It’s also interesting to know in his Hurricanes career he actually has more goals than assists at 69-68. A big part of the reasoning behind this is because he has no problem putting pucks on net. This goal in the second round of the playoffs is a good example. A simply puck on net goes in because he wasn’t afraid to just shoot:
— NHL (@NHL) May 22, 2022
Now for all the good that Niederreiter brings the one area he does not contribute to is the penalty kill. He did not play any this season on the PK and since his arrival in Carolina he has played a grand total of 4:52 on the PK. It’s a unique situation for a guy who is tasked with playing on a shut down line all season with one of the NHL’s best defensive forwards in Staal.
Likely the biggest issue with Niederreiter is his disappearances in the playoffs. Despite all of his success in the regular season, in 43 playoff games with Carolina he has just 12 total points with five of those coming this year. This is not a Niederreiter-only problem as we know. The entire team seems to shut down come playoff time, but when your third leading goal scorer goes down the drain when it matters most, it’s hard to overcome that.
The big question for Niederreiter now is what comes next? He’s a pending unrestricted free agent likely with an opportunity to sign his last large contract. Will that be in Carolina or will he out price himself for what the Canes can afford?
As our staff and many fans can tell you, re-signing Niederreiter should be a priority for the Canes. He brings the Fuel and the Fire to every game and there would be a major hole in the lineup if he leaves.