When Team Sweden coach Tomas Monten spoke with the media at the World Junior Summer Showcase last week, he was a little uncertain as to where Theodor Niederbach fit in with the Swedes’ team.
Niederbach, who dominated in the under-20 league as a center, is probably going to play as a winger on the Frolunda Indians’ men’s team (to help him adjust to men’s league play with fewer defensive responsibilities), so, as the week continued, Niederbach was listed as center, but played more and more on the wing.
Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen took note of Monten’s comments to myself and The Athletic’s Max Bultman regarding Niederbach’s positional preference:
“We like him as a center because he is skilled and he can move the puck and control the game,” Sweden coach Tomas Monten said.
The Red Wings drafted him as a center and probably prefer he develops as one. Niederbach won’t know where he will play in Frolunda this season until he arrives at their training camp.
Monten believes Niederbach can transform himself into an NHL center “if he gets stronger and quicker.”
“But maybe from the beginning maybe it would be better if he started on the right wing and took steps from there,” Monten said.
Continued; Monten’s most succinct comment regarding Niederbach’s struggles this past week was a blunt one:
“He’s one of the guys who can set-up a power play, but he wants to hold onto it just a little bit too much,” Monten said. “He wants to do too much.”
From what I witnessed at the WJSS, Niederbach needs to simplify his game and make demonstrative plays in a quicker fashion. Whether that happens on the wing or at center is going to be up to his coaches.
Update: Here are Monten’s remarks: