Niclas Bergfors trade and a clear explanation

The NHL trade deadline expired on Monday at 3pm EST. Once we head into this weekend’s action, players moved in Monday’s activity, should just about be settled in with their new clubs.

Former Thrasher forward Niclas Bergfors had the first address change on Monday morning, having been dealt to the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Radek Dvorak. A 5th round pick was acquired as well. Minor league forward Patrick Rissmiller’s stay in Atlanta was short lived and his days with the Chicago Wolves were officially over as he joined Bergfors in the move to Sunrise, Florida.

There is no need in dissecting this trade, given the soon to be Unrestricted Free Agent status of Radek Dvorak, a mid round pick and a spare part as the only parts of the trade itself outside of the talented young forward in Bergfors. Niclas Bergfors leaving Atlanta though, is obviously the intriguing part of this deal and one that left Thrasher fans shaking their heads.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, Niclas Bergfors was at one point a part time resident of the press box at the Phillips Arena. He might as well have labeled former Thrasher tough guy Ben Eager as his roommate up there, as the formers looked down together on numerous occasions.

What exactly went wrong for Bergfors was his inability to key in on the details of how head coach Craig Ramsey and his staff wanted a 60 minute hockey game to be played. Whether that initial message was clear to Bergfors in the Coaching Staff’s eyes, Bergfors clearly wasn’t on the same page.

“They haven’t said anything to me. I know I haven’t played my best hockey. I’m trying to focus to do my best and do the small details and everything that will help the team win the game. That’s what I’m trying to accomplish my next chance,” Bergfors said back in December.

It’s safe to say that the entire Atlanta Thrashers hockey club has needed a wake up call on numerous occasions this season, but the hard work never stops for a large majority of the players in the lineup. Bergfors though, seemed to be the one player that was not understanding what Craig Ramsey was preaching, strong work ethic.

Bergfors had high praise when drafted by the New Jersey Devils organization in 2005. There was one flaw that was abundantly clear though, his inability to consistently work hard at both ends of the ice.

Five years and counting and you can find that same issue with Niclas Bergfors. Only this time, Craig Ramsey had witnessed enough and found it necessary to give an AHL regular a try. After a tryout with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, forward Tim Stapleton was on his way to Atlanta.

A player all too familiar with the waiver wire, Stapleton was inserted into the lineup and all but assured Bergfors an extension on his press box stay.

Frustration would start to set in, but eventually Bergfors would find himself back in the lineup. By the time 2011 arrived, Bergfors was looking for just his 8th goal of the season. Offensively, it simply wasn’t there. Bergfors has good speed, a solid amount of skill and the ability to create plays in the offensive zone. This type of skill set was not implemented into his game in Atlanta this season.

Craig Ramsey was not going to wait either. Niclas Bergfors saw his ice time decrease in weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

General Manager Rick Dudley wasn’t about argue with the coaching staff’s assessment. On Monday morning he made that perfectly clear. A phone conversation with Florida’s General Manager Dale Tallon was the final straw for Niclas Bergfors.

“He’s been struggling. He had one goal in his last 14 games. Bergy is a streaky player. We were in a situation where we needed him to be streaky the other way,” Dudley said when addressing the media.

Bergfors simply wasn’t a fit in Craig Ramsey’s system. Time will tell how things work out in Sunrise, FL for the Sodertalje, Sweden native.

In the meantime, the Thrashers will move forward with Radek Dvorak and Robbie Schremp with hopes of getting some type of offense out of each for the remainder of the season.





  • Darren Coslov

    Thanks Mike. That’s a great question. We all know what Jacques Lemaire has done in NJ. Whether that’s getting the entire teams attention or really making an impact with individual players. I think it’s a little bit of both. That being said, it takes that type of coach to work with a player like Niclas Bergfors.

    Factor in Craig Ramsey, a coach that has done wonders to the attitude and work ethic of the Atlanta Thrashers hockey club. For whatever reason, he wasn’t getting through to Bergfors. It happens and it takes a certain coach to get through to a player like Bergfors.

    Peter DeBoer won’t be any different in terms of demanding hard work. It should be interesting to see where life in Ft. Lauderdale takes Niclas Bergfors. His options in the NHL aren’t running out, but it’s heading in that direction.

  • Mike Colligan

    Good article. My questions: How did he survive (and thrive) under Jacques Lemaire? And what are your expectations under Pete DeBoer?