Yesterday afternoon, the Nashville Predators placed winger Niclas Bergfors on waivers. The former first round pick has spent the last three seasons with four different teams and has only two points in 11 games this season. Now, I know what you all are thinking right now. Why in the world would Carolina want someone with such atrocious stats? It should be worth noting that he was apparently in the doghouse with Barry Trotz in Nashville and was scratched for a few games and when he did play he was getting fourth line minutes.
Bergfors’ point total over the last two seasons is underwhelming but he has posted very strong underlying numbers in those years. Last season, he scored 12 goals and 36 points in 72 games, but he was one of Atlanta’s (where he spent most of the season) better forwards when it came to driving possession. Atlanta was not a strong possession team last year but Bergfors was able to at least get the puck into the opponent’s zone and get shots on net on a consistent basis during his time there. Carolina is in a similar boat now as they have not been a great possession team either (team Fenwick w/ score tied is only 47.39%, third worst in the Eastern Conference), so having a player like this on the team has a lot of benefit. The team is also struggling to score at even strength and is very thin on the wings, so I have to believe that adding Bergfors can’t hurt at all. He is also signed to only a one-year deal at $575k which means that Carolina would not be risking much if they do claim him.
Bergfors also scored 21 goals only two seasons ago when he spent time with the Devils and Thrashers. Therein lies this question. If he is so talented then why has he been traded twice in the last three years and waived by one of the worst possession teams in the league? Bergfors is noted for being “lazy” and “refusing to play defense” by a lot of people which could by why Trotz was not giving him a lot of ice time in Nashville. There could also be some other issues with him seeing how the Florida Panthers didn’t even send a qualifying offer his way this summer when he was a restricted free agent.
I personally do not care about those problems because Carolina has plenty of defensively responsible forwards (Staal, Sutter, Dwyer, LaRose) and could really use a winger that can create chances and get shots on net on a regular basis. Bergfors is someone who can do just that and I see him as an upgrade over Anthony Stewart, who who may have three goals but has done next to nothing to create offense otherwise, to potentially play on the first line.
The one major thing standing in the way of me saying that we should claim Bergfors is that I think he will just end up like he did in Nashville. His possession numbers have been very bad this year but even if he does play well here, there’s a good chance he could end up like Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe where he’s pasted to the fourth line and playing only 3-7 minutes per game. That isn’t going to do a lot of good for the team. Sure, it would be nice to have him on the first line but with the way Maurice has been distributing ice time, it doesn’t look like that will happen. I still think it could be a good low-risk move for the Canes if they do claim Bergfors. If he gets a shot on the first line and works out, then it’s a steal. If he flops or can’t seem to get above the fourth line, then the Canes didn’t lose anything from this experiment.