News: Rangers Acquire Jyri Niemi

Update: 7:30AM: May 26th:Jess writes more about Niemi here.

Update:5:25PM: Jess Rubenstein tweets:

Niemi is a good skating defender who has some good offense

Update:4:39PM: Chris Botta of Isles Point Blank says that Niemi wasn’t viewed as an NHL prospect.

…We shall see what happens.

Original Post:

The Rangers have acquired defenseman Jyri Niemi from the Islanders in exchange for a 6th round pick in 2010

The Rangers and Niemi have agreed on a contract

Niemi, 19, had eight goals and 21 assists for the Saskatoon Blades this past season

He was the 72nd pick in the 2008 NHL draft. He is 6-3 210

He was not ranked by Hockey’s Future as one of the Isles top 20 prospects. Here is his HF page

This is the first trade between the Rangers and Islanders since 1972

….Former third round pick who is only 19 and Finnish. Optomistic person looks at this as a potential steal. Why not, low risk, only a 6th round pick, for a big defenseman. Sometimes European defenseman take a little longer to develop.

Otherwise he is just another body but at 19 why not take a risk on someone who was a third round pick.

He was taken three picks ahead of Evgeni Grahev

Press Release is after the jump

New York, May 25, 2010 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has acquired defenseman Jyri Niemi from the New York Islanders in exchange for a sixth round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The Rangers and Niemi have agreed to terms on a contract.

Niemi, 19, skated in 50 games with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, registering eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points, along with 67 penalty minutes and a plus-nine rating. He ranked second among team defensemen in goals and power play goals and third in assists and points. Niemi recorded a career-high, five-game scoring streak from October 7 vs. Kootenay to October 18 at Edmonton, tallying seven points over the span, including a two-goal effort on October 7. He recorded a point in each of his last four regular season contests from February 20 vs. Brandon to February 26 vs. Prince Albert (one goal and three assists), and registered 10 points (two goals and eight assists) in 13 games during the month of February. The third-year player established career-highs in post-season games played, goals and penalty minutes while ranking second among Saskatoon defensemen in playoff goals and tied for third in playoff points.

The 6-3, 210-pounder has appeared in 159 career regular season contests for Saskatoon, registering 29 goals and 66 assists for 95 points, along with 198 penalty minutes and a plus-27 rating. He established career-highs in games played (60), assists (25), penalty minutes (74) and plus/minus rating (plus-19) during the 2008-09 season. Later that season, Niemi made his WHL Playoff debut, and led Saskatoon with a career-high six assists and seven points in six post-season contests. In 2007-08, he finished first among WHL rookie defensemen with a career-high 14 goals, and ranked third with 34 points while skating in 49 games. He was selected to participate in the 2008 CHL Top Prospects Game, where he won the hardest shot competition with a shot registered at 97 miles per hour. Saskatoon’s first pick, 13th overall, in the 2007 CHL Import Draft, Niemi made his WHL debut on September 21, 2007, at Brandon, and notched his first point with a goal and added two assists for a career-high, three points on September 26 vs. Moose Jaw.

Prior to joining Saskatoon, Niemi played with HPK Hameenlinna in the Finnish Junior League, registering six goals and three assists for nine points, along with 72 penalty minutes in 35 games during the 2006-07 season. Internationally, Niemi has represented his native country in several international tournaments, most recently serving as Captain for Finland at the 2010 U-20 World Junior Championship. He finished the tournament tied for second among all defensemen and ranked second among Finnish skaters in goals (three), and tied for third on the team in points (five).

The Hameenkyro, Finland native was originally selected as the New York Islanders’ third round pick, 72nd overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The Rangers and Islanders last completed a trade on November 14, 1972, when the Rangers sent right wing Ron Stewart to the Islanders in exchange for cash.