Calder Profile: Niclas Bergfors
Drafted 23rd overall in the extremely deep 2005 entry draft, Niclas Bergfors worked his way up through the Devils organization to finally crack the roster at the start of the 2009-2010 season.
Never a prolific scorer by AHL standards (his top scoring season was 2008-2009: 22-29-51), his exact role on a Jacques Lemaire coached Devils team was suspect.
Was he going to be a scorer? If so, where in the world do you put him when your top three lines contain more talent than some entire squads? What does he do on the 4th line?
Bergfors is a quick winger with a good passing and playmaking sense. He’s not immensly huge – only 5’11″ and 195 pounds. On a lock down trap playing team like the Devils, that will not fly on the 4th line, and Bergfors’ scoring sense saw more and more bench time, seeing his time drop from between 14-20 minutes a night to 8-15 minutes. New Jersey press was wondering if he had the skill to be an elite player, or if he was just going to be a 3rd liner for the remainder of his career.
One of New Jersey’s top prospects needed a change of scenery his first season. A trade for one of the league’s top snipers gave him that chance.
Part of the February 4th trade with Atlanta for Ilya Kovalchuk (other parts were Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier, and a 1st round pick), Bergfors had the inauspicious job of filling in for someone who had been a part of the Thrashers his entire career. Reactions were mixed as to the return of the Kovalchuk trade – some thought Waddell had been fleeced yet again, given some spare parts for our superstar.
Bergfors wasted no time proving them wrong, scoring in his first home game as a Thrasher. Put on the top line with Nik Antropov and Bryan Little, Bergfors saw a chance that he never would have gotten in New Jersey. The Thrashers play a wide-open style of hockey, where playmaking and speed are rewarded and encouraged. Bergfors has been rewarding the Thrashers in return, scoring 8 goals and 8 assists, and is 8th in the league with 6 GWG. He is also tied for third on the team in goals.
When the Thrashers acquired him he was the fifth highest scoring rookie in the league, despite his lack of utilization by the Devils. The Thrashers got a young player who is evidently a perfect fit for the team and who will be a solid part of the organization for hopefully quite some time. Bergfors adds to the young core of Kane, Bogosian, Enstrom, and Little and is showing that skilled youth with a multi-faceted game can succeed just as well as a sniper. Bergfors is currently tied with John Tavares for second in rookie goals scored, and is 4th in points. The Devils gave up someone shaping up to be a fine young hockey player (as well as an excellent defenseman) for a rental who will probably walk come July 1st.
Kind of makes you wander who really fleeced who.