Photo Credit – Frölunda HC
A few years ago, there were some who thought of Theodor Niederbach as in the tier after Alexander Holtz, Lucas Raymond and Noel Gunler for his age, and as a potential first rounder. However, he somewhat disappeared from prospect watcher consciences for the last two years. Why? A serious knee injury (Osteochondritis) at age 15, and the surgery that followed, made him miss 15 months of hockey. In turn he did not play a single game in 2018-19. This year though, he came back with a bang, and made people sit up and take notice again.
D.O.B – February 25, 2002
Nationality – Sweden
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Height – 5’11
Weight – 172 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Right
Niederbach’s Style Of Play
Niederbach has fantastic hands, which combined with his plus skating and confidence with the puck means he is one of those forwards who can, and often does, make defensemen look silly. He does a lot of damage on the power-play, and for his age is truly an elite power-play quarterback who is one step ahead of the play. He is able to see and dissect plays before they happen, find lanes for himself and his team-mates, and is always getting into dangerous positions. This, alongside a quick and accurate release on his shot, mean that no matter whether he is on the half-boards or driving into the slot he is a night-mare to defend on the man-up.
Unsurprisingly due to his skill-set, Niederbach is also very good through the neutral zone, and effects zone entries at a very high percentage as a result. He can be a bit of a puck-hog at times, and this aspect of his game can lead to turnovers and promising plays fizzling out.
He probably should have scored more at even strength this season, and at times just went missing from games despite usually being the most skilled player on ice. For a center, he is also mediocre defensively and needs to focus on it more at times. Niederbach is a natural center who played better there than at wing this season, but maybe at the next level he moves to wing full-time because of his deficiencies in his own zone. His upside is probably that of a good second line NHLer. There is no doubting his skill, and his skating – considering he has only recently came back from a serious knee injury – is impressive, and will only get better.
Marcus Johansson, Center, Buffalo Sabres
Like Johansson, Niederbach is a good skater with soft hands. He is a skilled forward with great vision, but who often leaves you wanting more. The only two areas of his game that could use real improvement are his play in the defensive zone, and his decision making when it comes to shooting, and he should be encouraged to use his nice release with more regularity.
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stats from eliteprospects.com