G Mathias Niederberger
Mathias Niederberger is a 23-year-old goaltender from Germany, playing for Dusseldorfer EG in the DEL. His career started in Dusseldorf, his hometown, but he made the jump to North America early, hoping to make the National Hockey League.
Following his first year of NHL Draft eligibility, the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts selected Niederberger in the first round of the 2011 CHL Import Draft. Niederberger spent the next two seasons in Barrie and became one of the best goaltenders in the league. In his final OHL season, he had a .933 save percentage — trailing only Boston Bruins draft pick Malcolm Subban (.934) and leaving players like Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson behind.
However, Niederberger went undrafted in his second year of eligibility as well, and signed a contract with the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. After nine ECHL contests and six for the Monarchs, with save percentages of .884 and .887, respectively, Niederberger returned to Germany in 2014.
Back home, Niederberger played only five games in the DEL 2 and 11 in the DEL, backing up Berlin Polar Bears netminder Petri Vehanen.
Then came 2015-16, a true breakout season for Niederberger. Still just 23 years old, he carried Dusseldorf into the playoffs and was voted DEL goaltender of the year. He ranked second in save percentage at .930.
The Canucks are hoping to get NCAA prospect Thatcher Demko signed to a professional contract and still have Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom in Vancouver. But, having goaltending tandems of Miller-Markstrom and Niederberger-Demko would be an outstanding set-up for the future.
Next: G Mantas Armalis