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Behind The Bench: Niclas Bergfors

by on 09/14/2011

Vitals

Born: Sodertalje, SWE
Birth date: March 7, 1987
Height: 5’10” (178 cm)
Weight: 200 lbs (91 kg)
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Right
NHL Draft: 23rd overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2005
NHL Team: Nashville Predators
Jersey No.: #18
National Team: Sweden
NHL Contract: 11/12
Cap Hit: $575,000

History

Bergfors started the 2004-05 season with Sodertalje U20 and put up 18 goals and 34 points in 21 games. The club promoted him to their senior men’s team, where he played 25 games with the club. He was only able to produce 1 goal through those 25 games. Bergfors represented Sweden at both the U18 and U20 World Junior Championships. He tallied 6 goals in 7 U18 WJC games and 3 points in 6 U20 games and helped the U18 team win a bronze medal. For his good season, Bergfors was selected second overall in the CHL import draft by the St. John Fog Devils and was selected 23rd overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils.

Bergfors was the youngest player in the AHL during the 2005-06 season. He spent the season with the Albany River Rats and finished the season as the team’s leading scorer. With Albany, Bergfors recorded 17 goals and 23 assists in 65 games which landed him 33rd amongst AHL rookies in scoring; no other team had a leading scorer with such few points. Bergfors improved offensively every game but his defensive game did not follow suit which resulted in ending his rookie season with a -11 rating. Bergfors also represented Sweden at the U20 WJC, recording 6 points in 6 games.

The 2006-07 season was an under achieving one for Bergfors. After leading the River Rats in scoring in the previous season with 17 goals and 40 points, Bergfors only produced 13 goals and 32 points in 60 games. His under achieving play carried over to the U20 WJC as he only recorded 2 points in 7 games for Team Sweden.

Bergfors followed up a disappointing season with another one by suffering a shoulder injury on opening night with the Devils for the 2007-08 season. After a month of recovery, he was assigned to Lowell where he injured his other shoulder. When he returned to the lineup after his injuries fully healed, his play improved. In 67 combined AHL and NHL games, Bergfors tallied 12 goals and 15 assists.

After a few disappointing seasons, Bergfors posted his best career totals across the board in the 2008-09 season. In 66 games with Lowell, he recorded 22 goals and 29 assists, for 51 points. Good enough for second on the team in scoring. Bergfors also scored his first NHL goal with the Devils during a short 8 game call-up.

Bergfors made the Devils lineup out of training camp during the 2009-10 season and played 54 games before he was traded, along with Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier and New Jersey’s 1st round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to the Atlanta Thrashers at the deadline for Ilya Kovalchuk. Prior to his trade, Bergfors recorded 13 goals and 14 assists with the Devils. He finished the season playing 27 games for the Thrashers, producing 8 goals and 9 assists. The Thrashers re-signed Bergfors to a one-year contract extension.

For the 2010-11 season, Bergfors played in 52 games with the Atlanta Thrashers, producing 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points, before he and Patrick Rissmiller were traded to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline for Radek Dvorak and Florida’s 5th round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Bergfors recorded 1 goal and 6 assists in 20 games with the Panthers. The Panthers opted not to qualify Bergfors, making him an unrestricted free agent. On July 4th, 2011 he signed a one-year contract with the Nashville Predators.

Talent Analysis

Pros

  • Good speed and agility
  • Above average stickhandler
  • Sound hockey sense
  • Good offensive instincts
  • Good and accurate shot
  • Good on-ice vision and hockey sense
  • Adept playmaker
  • Able to create open ice for himself and linemates
  • Good technical skills

Cons

  • Needs to improve work ethic shift-to-shift, game-to-game
  • No physical game
  • Unpolished defensive game
  • Inconsistent scorer
  • Lacks strength and willingness to win battles
  • Low compete level
  • Has yet to put all his skills together at the NHL level

Future

Bergfors has the talent to be a dependable 50-point winger but his work ethic and competitive level are questionable. Bergfors signed a one-year deal with the Nashville Predators, a team known as a blue collar group.

Last year the Predators turned a struggling Sergei Kostitsyn into a hard working 50-point winger and they’re hoping they can do the same to Bergfors. If any coach in the league has a chance of changing Bergfors worth ethic and compete level, it has to be Barry Trotz.

Bergfors is a low-risk, high reward signing for the Predators. He’ll either produce 45 points during the 2011-12 season or he’ll be demoted to the minors or the press box. How Bergfors does next season will likely predicate how the rest of his NHL career will unfold. Personally, my money’s on Bergfors.

NHL Highlights

  • Drafted 23rd overall by in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft
  • 1st NHL Game Played – October 4th, 2007 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (1-3 L)
  • 1st NHL Point – November 1st, 2008 vs. Atlanta Thrashers (Goal)
  • 1st NHL Goal – November 1st, 2008 vs. Atlanta Thrashers
  • 1st NHL Assist – October 3rd, 2009 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
  • 1st NHL Multi-point Game – October 24th, 2009 vs. New York Rangers (1 goal, 1 assist)

Career Highlights

  • 2002-03 J20 SuperElit (Overall) Most Points by U16 Junior (4)
  • 2002-03 TV-Pucken Champion
  • 2003-04 J20 SuperElite (Overall) Most Points by U17 Junior (30)
  • 2004-05 Swedish Junior Hockey Player of the Year
  • 2004-05 U18 WJC All-Star Team
  • 2004-05 U18 WJC Bronze Medal
  • 2005-06 AHL Youngest Player in the League
  • 2009-10 NHL All-Rookie Team

Career Stats

AHL: 257 GP, 64 G, 86 A, 150 Pts
Elitserien:
25 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pt
Elitserien Playoffs:
2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts
International:
3 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pt
International-Jr:
74 GP, 27 G, 14 A, 41 Pts
J18 Allsvenskan:
9 GP, 18 G, 8 A, 26 Pts
J18 Allsvenskan Playoffs:
2 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt
NHL:
162 GP, 34 G, 47 A, 68 Pts
SuperElit:
62 GP, 31 G, 37 A, 68 Pts
SuperElit Playoffs:
8 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 Pts
TV-Pucken:
16 GP, 12 G, 4 A, 16 Pts
WJC-18:
13 GP, 7 G, 2 A, 9 Pts
WJC-20:
19 GP, 5 G, 6 A, 11 Pts

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