Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Theodor Niederbach.
After missing the entire 2018-19 season due to a knee injury, Swedish centre Theodor Niederbach came back with a huge season in his draft year. Playing in the Frolunda system, he started in the Swedish Under-18 league and was dominant. In 14 games, Niederbach scored 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points. He also played one playoff game in the league, scoring two goals and four points. Clearly too advanced for the league, he was moved up to the Swedish Under-20 league, the SuperElit. He continued to put up strong production, scoring 15 goals and 33 assists for 48 points in 40 games. Niederbach also spent time with the Swedish Under-18 national team. In eight games he scored four goals and seven points.
In 2017-18, Niederbach was an elite player in the Swedish Under-16 league. He led the league in goals (35), assists (38), and of course points (73), doing so in just 24 games played. He also put up four goals and two assists for six points in three playoff games. Niederbach also played nine games for the Swedish Under-16 national team scoring five goals and six points. Niederbach’s twin brother, Adam Niederbach also plays in the Frolunda system.
Theodor Niederbach Scouting Report
Centre/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 25th, 2002 — Bjasta, Sweden
Height 5’11″ — Weight 172 lbs [180 cm/78 kg]
Niederbach’s skating is still a bit of a work in progress. He seemed to get better as the season went along though, and after missing an entire season due to a knee injury, it’s likely that there is a lot of room for him to improve in this area. He keeps up with the play well enough but is not a speedster by any means. The best part of Niederbach’s skating is his edgework and agility. His turns are smooth and he is able to make cuts to get away from defenders. Niederbach’s lower body strength and balance are also average. He is not overmatched in board battles and also is strong enough on the puck. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement here.
Niederbach is an excellent playmaker. He keeps his head up when he has the puck and sees the ice extremely well. He is a good stickhandler and protects the puck well, allowing his teammates the opportunity to get open. When they do, Niederbach can snap a quick pass through a tight lane. He can also make a saucer pass to a teammate’s tape to create a scoring chance. Niederbach can control the play and speeds it up or slows it down as needed. His quick hands and good lateral mobility allow Niederbach to make a quick move and create space when he needs it.
Niederbach also has a decent wrist shot and good release. It has decent power, but it is very accurate. His ability to change the angle just prior to shooting also helps him to confuse goaltenders. Niederbach can get open without the puck and also has a good one-timer. However, he plays a bit of a perimeter game. Niederbach does not really play in the dirty areas of the ice and could do more to get to the front of the net with and without the puck. He also could engage in battles for loose pucks and in grinding more in the corners. This may come as he adds muscle to his frame.
Niederbach’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He needs to be more engaged physically when supporting the defence in his own end. He has a tendency to reach for pucks a bit too much and try to stick check the opposition rather than engaging in battles for loose pucks and in containment against the cycle. His positioning is generally pretty good though, and he does a good job of getting into passing lanes and creating turnovers. Once they are created, he can transition up the ice. Niederbach can also improve in the face-off circle.
Projection and Comparison
Niederbach could become a two-way forward if he develops properly. He will need to improve his skating but that may come as he continues to recover, get stronger, and trust his knee after the serious injury he suffered. Niederbach has the versatility to play both centre and on the wing. His ability to play in the middle at the next level will be based on his skating improvements as well as improvements in his defensive game. Niederbach’s game is reminiscent of Mike Ribeiro, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Theodor Niederbach that are available on youtube.
— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) February 15, 2020
— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) February 15, 2020
— Anton Johansson (@antonj85) January 5, 2020
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Theodor Niederbach Main Photo:
SWEDEN: Theodor Niederbach, C(2020) #NHLDraft profile – opening up this great analysis by @jimmyhamrin FREE: Skills + hockey sense have elite potential – after missing a full season to injury jumped from U16 to U20 yet still found a way to produce points https://t.co/EHgqaFpTmQ pic.twitter.com/10hydGHWaN
— McKeen’s Hockey (@mckeenshockey) April 6, 2020