Name: Niklas Sundstrom
Position: Left Wing
Born: 6/6/75 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden
Drafted: 1st Round (8th Overall) in 1993 by the Rangers
With the Rangers losing Mark Messier to free agency last season and slowly adding players in the right positions, Sundstrom may be able to return to where he can do his best work, as a second-line centre or winger. He is highly skilled offensively, as he proved when he was used as the right wing with Wayne Gretzky. Sundstrom was one of the few Rangers savvy enough to play successfully off Gretzky and convert the exceptional opportunities Gretzky creates for any teammate. Each player helped provide a vital component for the other. Gretzky helped flesh out Sundstrom's reticent offensive game while Sundstrom covered Gretzky's back whenever possible. Sundtsrom is not, however, a true finisher. A deceptively fast skater with good balance and a strong stride, Sundstrom plays a smart game and does a lot of subtle things well. A puck magnet, he applies his skills to the defensive game. He reads plays very well, is aware defensively and always makes the safe decision. And when he forechecks, especially when killing penalties, he almost always comes up with the puck in a one-on-one battle.
The Physical Game
Sundstrom will not get much bigger and has to get stronger, but he is amoung the most persistent and
consistently physical players on his team. One of Sundstrom's talents is lifting an opponent's blade to steal the puck. He absorbs way more punishment than he dishes out, since he doesn't punish anybody, but is beginning to realize that developing at least a hint of a mean streak is necessary for his survival.
Because he doesn't throw big hits or make flashy plays on the ice, and because he almost constantly is smiling off it, Sundstrom gets taken lightly a lot more than he should. He is committed to playing, and playing well. He is also committed to winning, and is enormously respected in the dressing room.
Sundstrom is a passer more than a scorer. If the Rangers use him on a second line, and give him some finishers to play with, he could add a valuable 55 points to the lineup.
SOURCE: HOCKEY SCOUTING REPORT