2013-2014 Player Report Cards: Niklas Svedberg

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Svedberg won a game against the Nashville Predators in January and one against the Hartford Wolf Pack in March. If he ever figures out this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act, the 24-year-old native of Sweden could have a nice career in the NHL.

The Basics

Niklas Svedberg GP TOI W L SOL GAA SV% SA/60
PRO Reg. Season
45 2602.15 25 15 4 2.63 .910 29.1
PRO Playoffs 9 243:39 4 4 0 2.70 .905 28.6
BOS Reg. Season 1 60:48 1 0 0 1.97 .943 34.5

Breaking The Ice With A Brief Anecdote/Rant Type Thing

I watched Niklas Svedberg's NHL debut against the Nashville Predators in a wooden rocking chair, wearing a t-shirt covered in tomato sauce from a pizza I devoured during NESN's pregame coverage, and wondering why I hadn't done more for New Years Eve.

Svedberg played well, and at the time, gave Boston a much needed win after a December filled with inconsistency, injuries and far too many episodes of Behind The B where the notion of Brad Marchand being the team jokester was shoved down our throats. Is Marchand a funny guy? Yeah, perhaps. But he's not that funny. Christ, it's not like he has this "funniest guy in the office" thing locked down. He has some restricted free-agent competition.

 

 

Adventures In Providence

Anyway, let us veer back to the man of the hour; Svedberg. The 2012-2013 AHL Goalie Of The Year, Svedberg disappointed, well not so much disappoint but regressed, in his second season with Providence. After a sparking season, winning 37 of his 47 stars and posting a .925 save percentage, his return to Rhode Island's capital was accompanied by a .015 drop in save percentage despite only a slight increase - .2 - in shots against per 60.

For the second straight year our beloved Nordic goaltending prospect struggled in the postseason. Earning more postseason starts than counterpart Malcolm Subban, who registered stronger numbers in his 33 regular season games, Svedberg helped Providence to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals even though his save percentage flatlined at .905. And yet, this was a sound improvement over the .889 he carried after 12 postseason appearances in last spring's Calder Cup playoffs.

Yikes.

 The Game With Boston

Svedberg's lone NHL game, an aforementioned start against the Nashville Predators, appeared to be one of the few games in which he was able to channel his 2012-2013 success. Svedberg stopped 33 of 35 shots and the Bruins ultimately won the game in overtime thanks to a nifty goal by Marchand, the team comedian.

In non-Svedberg related news, I went to my kitchen to grab a glass of lemonade and missed Marchand's goal. I'm an idiot.

 

Conclusion/Grade: C+/B-/I Honestly Don't Know

This season, as far as his play down on the farm is concerned, Svedberg gave little reason to be confident about his ability to replace Chad Johnson as Tuukka Rask's backup. That is, of course, assuming Johnson bolts to another city where more playing time is to be had.

Yet, that game against Nashville's mediocre, 19th ranked offense, gets me all excited about what Svedberg could potentially do in the NHL. He looked good that night, but for the majority of the season he was just kind of, I don't know, blah.

Maybe I'm overreacting, and Svedberg is dealing with nothing more with a case of the "depressed-to-be-in-the-AHL-ies". I mean, It's feasible for a guy who once opened a bench door on an opponent who had lost his balance to become complacent.

 

I can't emphasize enough how good Svedberg was against Nashville as well as the brilliance he displayed with Providence a year ago. Still, part of me wonders if last year was nothing more than a flash in the pan from a guy whose best save percentage during the regular season in Sweden's Elitserien was .917. Was Svedberg riding a high from his ungodly 1.70 goals against average and .947 while backstopping Brynas to an Elitserien title in 2011-2012 into last season? Or, is his playoff run in Sweden and 2012-2013 campaign with Providence a glimpse of his true potential?

Either way, If Johnson leaves, Svedberg deserves a chance at competing for the second spot on the B's goaltending depth chart.. With Subban likely needing another year to polish his blooming game in Providence, it might not be the worst idea to bring in a fringe veteran, similar to Johnson's status at the end of last year, to push Svedberg in camp. Who that guy will be is a question I'm not qualified to answer, and any names I could suggest - David Leggio - would probably make me look like a complete fool.

I think this about wraps up it. Thanks for reading and I apologize for not being the sharpest tool in the shed.

 

(Stats courtesy theahl.com, eliteprospects.com and extraskater.com)

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