Red Wings prospect and Frolunda Indians forward Theodor Niederbach has come a long way over a short period of time, going from dominating in the Swedish Under-20 league to playing regularly for the SHL’s Frolunda Indians. As Niederbach prepares to participate in the World Junior Championship for Sweden, he’s also adjusting to playing as the center on the Alexander Holtz-Lucas Raymond line, and he spoke with HockeyNews.se’s Henrik Sjoberg regarding his rapid ascent (which is roughly translated from Swedish):
From reserve [forward] to top line with Holtz and Raymond: “No problems with responsibility”
From being called up as a reserve forward in November to the role of center on the top line with Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond.
The World Junior Championship in Edmonton will be a big showcase for 18-year-old Theodor Niederbach.
“In that case, we will be a leading line, but I do not feel any pressure. Things have gone well in practice and both are very skilled players,” says Niederbach to HockeyNews.se.
The Junior Krona have landed on Canadian soil, and after a number of days in quarantine, the final preparations will begin before the WJC premiere against the Czech Republic on the second day [of the World Junior Championship].
Sweden plays two exhibition games in Edmonton. Against Canada on the 21st and Switzerland on the 22nd.
“We know there’s a lot of time in hotel rooms where we are waiting right now and so it’s been throughout the week in Sundsvall. You get time to go with the PS4 and a little more, but it’s gone pretty well so far,” says Theodor Niederbach.
The Frolunda center has a big challenge ahead of him for the championship that awaits him. During the training camp in Sundsvall, Niederbach had to replace Karl Henriksson as the center on the top line alongside Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond.
Henriksson left due to a positive coronavirus test just before the gathering in Sundsvall, and he will miss the tournament.
“I have played center on that line now and it has felt good in practice, they are two very skilled players and it’s important to be in the right place at the right time so we get a free goal with the two,” says Niederbach, who wasn’t selected for the original team for the Finnish camp in Malmo in November, but had to join after a number of regulars bowed out.
During the autumn, Niederbach has played in his first eleven SHL games in Frolunda, and during two of them, he played on the same line as Raymond–and both have been drafted by the Detroit Red Wings.
“One of the games I played at center for him and one game I had to play on one side. It worked quite well then, too.”
How do you see the opportunity to play in such an environment as this big championship?
“Now I can’t take it out in advance, but we’ve had to play together so far, and it will be so even when the tournament starts, so we’ll become a leading line and can be given the responsibility that it’s us who will do that, and when it comes to that part, I feel no pressure.”
“Somewhere I know that Lucas and Alex will probably take the biggest responsibilities on our line as well, but I want to be tehre to help and contribute with what I’m good at.”
What’s the difference between you and Karl Henriksson as a center?
“I would say that Karl is a big more of a complete center than I am in terms of my defensive game. But at the same time, I feel that I’ve taken a step defensively, and I want to be a center that you can trust even in your own zone. I feel no problem with taking exactly that kind of responsibility, but it will really only be fun for my part.”