Ten Second-Year NHL Players Who Made a Difference

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Ten Second-Year NHL Players Who Made a Difference
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Niclas Bergfors

Niclas Bergfors was a key figure in the multi-player deal that sent unrestricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils.

Bergfors was a top offensive prospect in the New Jersey system. As a restricted free agent, he was expendable especially with the salary cap-devouring Kovalchuk being added to the roster.

Finishing the season in a Thrashers uniform and impressing the Phillips Arena faithful with flashes of brilliance as a point producer and playmaker, Bergfors along with Johnny Oduya and prospect Patrice Cormier, seemed to quiet even the critics who lambasted the Thrashers for not being able to re-sign Kovalchuk.

According to Wikipedia, Bergfors was drafted as 23rd overall in the 2005 draft by the New Jersey Devils. In 2004–05, Bergfors played for Södertälje SK of Sweden.

He played on Team Sweden in the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championship and was also selected in the 2005 CHL Import Draft by the St. John's Fog Devils, but only played in pre-season for them before being re-assigned to Albany.

He spent the 2006–07 season with the Lowell Devils of the American Hockey League (AHL).

With the preseason training camp commencing shortly, Bergfors still has not signed a new pact and the Thrashers recently announced that negotiations were not going smoothly.

The Thrashers new GM Rick Dudley has stridently stuck to his guns, refusing to pay above market value for players. Colby Armstrong, Pavel Kubina, Clarke MacArthur, and Max Afinogenov have all departed Atlanta for different venues.

Negotiations with Bergfors may test Dudley a little more than the other transactions, since Bergfors' youth and talent provide a tremendous upside for a team determined to compete in the postseason in 2010-11.

Although the Thrashers probably have Bergfors penciled in for 25 goals, there is a strong possibility that he could beat his projections and register 30 or perhaps more with power-play and penalty-kill minutes.

The Thrashers have arguably the best coaching staff ever since coming to Atlanta. It appears that Ramsey will attempt to create an on ice product that is well conditioned, balanced offensively and defensively, and physical.

He has said he will emphasize forechecking and expects his forwards to finish checks.

Bergfors, along with Evander Kane, Nik Antropov, Rick Peverley, Dustin Byfuglien, and possibly Alex Brumistrov and Andrew Ladd, will be counted on to produce balanced offense at forward.  

The Thrashers have several players vying for positions including NIgel Dawes ( formerly of Calgary) who just inked a two-way contract 

The Thrashers will not have a player who can automatically be penciled in for 40 goals as Kovalchuk regularly produced in previous years, so individual productivity becomes exceedingly important.

For Bergfors, the opportunity with a young team like the Thrashers may be just the break he is looking for. With his poise and speed, along with a desire to become a standout player in the NHL, 2010-11 could be a banner year for him.

If he is able to produce in his second NHL campaign and help, drive the Thrashers into the playoffs, history bodes well.

Bergfors will join some elite company if he is able to up his goal-scoring and point production after making the NHL All-Rookie team in 2009-10.

Over the years, players like Bernie Geoffrion, Jean Beliveau, Steve Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Sidney Crosby, Larry Murphy, and others have managed to produce significantly better performances in their second year while avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump.

Let’s have a look at how some of those players fared in their second year.

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