Ah, I knew we’d gone too long without a scandinavian guy who looks like they drank directly from the fountain of youth at the ripe age of ten!
Let’s get this out of the way. The big reason Theodor Niederbach is even possible as a second round pick is something out of sports movie drama 101; in 2018-19, he suffered a season-ending knee injury that happened before his season ever got a chance to get off the ground. And that’s caused his stock to drop precipitously in spite of the playmaking skill that Niederbach has showed at even young ages.
Niederbach comes from the Frölunda HC system in Sweden, where he’s been making waves due to his mindblowing ability to rack up assists. Niederbach controls shifts he’s involved in with stickhandling so good it almost seems like he’s not trying, casually looking defenders off and forcing them to commit to a mistake, then getting around them in order to set up his teammates, who usually get a picture perfect pass from those baby soft hands. Indeed, his ability to recognize the play around him and see where defenders are not and aren’t going to be is almost uncanny. It’s why he ended up the leading assist getter on Frolunda after awhile, and why he was 5th in the entire country in assists, beaten only by a handful of his contemporaries that are either already drafted, or going in this year’s class. And if he’s needed as a goalscorer, that same offensive skill comes in handy with a very accurate wrister. This combo, garnished with a very mature ability to protect the puck, makes him a danger any time he’s on the ice, and especially when he’s on the power play.
C Theodor Niederbach (2020) showing some skill in OT. #SuperElit #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/NhZwPvyUxy— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) February 15, 2020
Frölunda scores 4-7 goal by Isac Andersson assist by Theodor Niederbach and Karl Henriksson #j20setop10 #2020NHLDraft #PlayLikeANewYorker pic.twitter.com/zu8K1EclJe— Joel Lander (@JoelLander1891) March 4, 2020
A PP goal by C Theodor Niederbach (2020). Assisted by C Karl Henriksson (NYR) and LHD Simon Edvinsson (2021).— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) February 15, 2020
1st #SuperElit point for Edvinsson in his 3rd game in that league. pic.twitter.com/KCNyTRhQie
Theodor Niederbach matchvinnande 4-3 mål för Frölunda mot Mora. #J18gifs #FHC #J18AllsvenskanSödra #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/O3fQXEc364— . (@antonj85) January 5, 2020
But of course...that damn knee injury haunts him, and will likely do so for the rest of his career. It is abundantly clear that his skating, even on his best day, is more based in his agility than his speed, which he would’ve likely been able to improve upon had he had his 2018-19 season...had he had the privilege of playing it. Further, his play is very perimeter heavy; Niederbach will go to the dirty areas and won’t get overwhelmed by physicality, but he himself will not go out of his way to be physical, preferring to make plays using his stick rather than try and separate puck from defender. He does clog up lanes, but he’s not going to make a habit of clogging up player involvement in said lanes. Which is fine in SuperElit, but in North America, things are very different, and that could be a difficult change for him to make
Niederbach is a project. The kind of project that, if done right, could make a team very happy with the kind of versatility, skill, and creativity that made him so useful to Frolunda’s J20 team, with universal belief that he could easily be a 2nd liner if everything pans out correctly. But part of the equation will be that project; getting him bigger and getting him used to physicality, as well as make up for lost time on his skating and most importantly...NOT getting him injured again. And even after all of that, he’s projected for somewhere in the late 2nd to 3rd round, with some overzealous belief that he could end up in the first round by some especially bullish team here and there.
Whatever the case, it’s up to Don to decide if Niederbach’s rewards to the Bruins are worth the risk.
19th by NHL Central Scouting among European Skaters
29th by HockeyProspect.com
33rd by McKeen’s Hockey
35th by EliteProspects.com
75th by FutureConsiderations
|2017-18||KB65 HK U16 "A"||U16 Elit||24||38||35||73||32|
|KB65 HK U16||U16 SM||6||8||4||12||8|
|2018-19||Frolunda HC U18||J18 Elit||0||0||0||0||0|
|2019-20||Frolunda HC U18||J18 Elit||7||7||4||11||27|
|Frolunda HC U18||J18 Allsvenskan||7||4||6||10||4|
|Frolunda HC J20||SuperElit||40||15||33||48||12|