#21 / Right Wing
Height: 6’2” | Weight: 218 | Born: September 8, 1992
Birthplace: Chur, CHE | Acquired: Trade, January 2019 (from Minnesota)
Assets: Boasts good size, solid scoring prowess and a flair for the dramatic in his game. Shoots first, asks questions later. Not shy about venturing into heavy traffic areas, he can play on either side of center. Also has a mean streak.
Flaws: Needs to continue to work on playing a consistent brand of hockey, especially in the offensive zone. Must also prove he can play sans injuries for long stretches, which have been a challenge for him over the years.
Career Potential: Big, inconsistent scoring winger with a little upside.
Why You Should Know Who He Is: Niederreiter has been electric since joining the Eastern Conference in late January. In 36 games with the Hurricanes Niederreiter has tallied thirty points (0.83 PPG). He has recorded 14 goals, with 11 coming at 5v5. In total, Niederreiter’s season was the second best of his NHL career, finishing with 53 points (23 goals) through 82 games. He provided consistent offensive output for Rod Brind’Amour and earned himself a spot on the team’s power play. He has registered seven points (3 goals) with Carolina’s power play.
The eight year veteran of 534 regular season NHL contests is playing some of the best hockey of his career and will now see the Stanley Cup playoffs for the sixth season. In 39 career playoff contests Niederreiter is just under one half point per game. His best second season was 2016 when he posted six points in as many games in the Wild’s first round loss to Dallas. In fifteen career games against the Capitals Niederreiter has nine points (5 goals). In 2014 Niederreiter ended the old friend Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche’s season with a Game 7 OT goal in the first round.
How the Caps Can Stop Him: Niederreiter is a skilled player with size. Oftentimes he is able to command time and space with the puck in the offensive zone. Washington’s defense will be tasked with keeping his large frame out of the slot area and forcing his chances to come from outside, or through a check. With Michal Kempny’s injury juggling Washington’s defense younger and smaller players like Christian Djoos will need to have good and smart shifts. Niederreiter can be a force on the forecheck so it will also be important for the Capitals to retrieve pucks swiftly and efficiently to prevent Carolina from generating opportunities from off the walls.
Niederreiter was blanked by Winnipeg in five postseason games last April on the Jets’ way through their first round series. Niederreiter did a fair job of attempting to generate offense (9 shots) but the Jets’ defense kept him away from the high danger areas of the ice. Niederreiter and the Wild were shutout in that series’ final two games and he has only a single assist across his last ten playoff games. The Capitals, needing to be led by Braden Holtby, would be best served to shut Niederreiter down early at Capital One Arena to hopefully keep the Swiss sniper sleeping throughout the series.