Minnesota Wild: Where Will Neiderreiter Play on Team Europe?


Team Europe will be an eclectic group of players with a big chance to shock the big teams at the World Cup of Hockey.  Minnesota Wild winger Nino Neiderreiter will be a big difference in that effort, but where in the lineup he’ll make that difference will be a big question for Team Europe.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the upcoming World Cup of Hockey is the addition of the “coalition” teams made of players from multiple countries.  Team North America is made up of young players under 24 from the US and Canada, and Team Europe is made up of all of the European players who are not from Finland, Sweden, Russia, or the Czech Republic.  Looking at the Team Europe roster, you find an eclectic group from eight different countries that includes the Minnesota Wild winger Nino Niederreiter.

A quick glance of this roster and you can see where making four lines could be a very hard exercise for head coach Ralph Kruger.  The players of Team Europe are talented no doubt, but it seems that finding the mix of physicality and scoring could be the hard part.  Looking at most of the forwards the team seems to be heavy on the physical two-way players and lacking a bit in the pure scoring department.

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The Right Wing position seems to be the strength of the team with Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik, Mikkel Boedker, and Niederriter.  So looking at where Niederreiter could play in the lineup looks to be a hard question.  The issue really is that there are two future hall of famers in Hossa and Gabby who will get the call for the top two lines. That means that Nino and Boedker will be vying for spots on the third and fourth lines.

In a head to head matchup with Boedker, Niederreiter offers more of a goal scoring upside.  Niederreiter is a solid 20+ goal scorer, whereas Boedker has never eclipsed the 20 goal mark in 9 NHL seasons.  Still Boedker offers an superior all-around game that makes a case to be higher than Niederreiter and actually has a bit more playmaking than his Swiss teammate.  So who wins the race to be on the third line?

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That could really come down to who Kruger wants to play with whom.  The Left Wingers will more than likely see Jannik Hansen on the top line, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare with be on the fourth line, and there looks to be a battle between Thomas Vanek and Mats Zuccarello as two who will be on the second and third lines.  My thought is that if Vanek makes the second line and Zuccarello lands on third line, you’ll see Boedker on the third line to balance out Zuccarello who would be looking to be the trigger man for the line and brings a ton of physicality.  If Vanek lands on the third line, look for Neiderreiter to be on the third line to play with his former Wild teammate and add the physical game that Zuccarello brings in the previous scenario.

Bottom line though for Niederreiter is he needs to make an impression in the three practices in Quebec City starting on September 5th.  He’s a great player with excellent all around skill that make him a great up and down player.  The key for him will be to complement whomever he is picked to play with.

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Also this a very stacked team by design.  There’s no shame if he falls to the fourth line because of chemistry concerns or other intangibles.  He’s earned a spot on the team and will have a chance to get playing time no matter which line he plays on.  Still pay attention to the Europeans during practices and exhibition games to see exactly where he lands.