The Detroit Red Wings are an organization rich with Swedish prospects spread throughout their pipeline. While not as heralded as other Swedish prospects like Lucas Raymond and Jonatan Berggren, the right winger/center Theodor Niederbach has all the tools to get to level of excellence.
Drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft by Detroit, Niederbach was a player with the skills to go in the first, but ultimately fell because of a history of injuries. In his 2020-21 season, Niederbach has had an opportunity to prove himself on a variety of different rosters, splitting his time between the Swedish National Team and the two major leagues in Sweden, the Swedish Hockey League and HockeyAllsvenskan.
Niederbach spent a vast majority of this time with the Frolunda hockey club in the SHL. Initially starting with Frolunda’s under 20 squad (13 goals and 22 assists in 19 games played), he was promoted to Frolunda’s main team for the remainder of their season.
Niederbach scored three goals and two assists in 16 regular season games with Frolunda. While not exactly lights out, the numbers aren’t terrible considering limited ice time for such a young player and the low-scoring nature of the Frolunda hockey club.
In Sweden’s second tier pro league, HockeyAllsvenskan, Niederbach notched three goals and six assists in 15 games with MODO Hockey.
Niederbach also played five games with the Swedish National Hockey team, scoring two goals in five games.
Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story
Niederbach is a hard player to judge if you just look at the numbers. Sticking solely with stats, once he hit the pros, it seems as though he’s hit a wall. However, checking out the tape tells a different story: a young player with an insane hockey IQ and high-end puck handling skills that is quickly improving his game.
Despite his fantastic puck handling, Niederbach makes his living with his hockey IQ. One of those players that just sees what others can’t on the ice; he possesses the ability to create offensive chances out of nothing.
High hockey IQ isn’t his only strength. His puck handling isn’t just above average – it is borderline elite. Nearly every Niederbach highlight is a downright dirty clip showing him fooling either a defender or a goaltender with his impressive finesse and speed.
The concern with Niederbach is whether or not his skillset will translate to a pro-league. That is why the 2021-22 season is so important for Niederbach, as Elite Prospects says he will return to the SHL to play with Frolunda. As we’ve seen with prospects like Berggren and Moritz Seider, gaining experience in the SHL can do quite a lot to improve a player.
With Joe Veleno, Seider and Raymond likely in Detroit next season (at the very least in Grand Rapids), Niederbach might be the best prospect to keep on eye on. If he finds a way to translate his skillset to a pro league, Niederbach won’t just be a good depth forward – he could be a top six winger.