Rant Sports Top 100 Players In The NHL: No. 85 Niklas Kronwall
Kronwall has emerged as a one of the fiercest hitters in the NHL during his first six season in the league. But, it turns out he is much, much more than that for the Red Wings and that is why he comes in at number 85 on the Rant Sports list of 100 top NHL players.
As a defenseman playing for the Red Wings over the last 20 seasons it would have been very hard to come out from under the shadow on Niklas Lidstrom, yet, somehow Kronwall did just that.
Drafted by the Red Wings in the 1st round, 29th overall, in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Kronwall has become a vital member of the Red Wings core. The Swedish defenseman’s reputation around the league has grown too. He is at the point where even his hits have their own name. To be “Kronwalled” means t have been been flattened by the rear-end of a backpedaling heat-seeking missile named ‘Kronwall.’ The most famous of these hits took place in 2009 Western Conference Finals when Kronwall delivered a brutal check to Chicago Blackhawks forward Martin Havlat, leaving him flat on his back and unconscious on the ice.
Much like other great hitters Kronwall walks a fine line between clean and dirty; although, to his credit he has never received more than 54 penalty minutes in an entire season.
While the hitting helps, its not the main reason why he is on our list. The 6’0″ 190 lb. has blossomed into more than just a guy that can throw his weight around. After posting a career high 51 point (6g 45a)in 2008-09, Kronwall played in only 48 games the following season, collecting just 22 points. To his credit, he quickly rebounded in 2010-11; reaching double-digits in goals for the first time in his career. Of his 11 goals, five of them came with the man advantage.
In 2011-12, Kronwall emerged as a star for the Red Wings on the blue line.He finished the season with 36 points in 82 games, good enough for seventh on the team in scoring and first among defenseman. His 15 goals ranked third among NHL defenseman and his seven power play goals was third on the Red Wings behind Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom.
At just 31 years of age and with Lindstrom now retired, Kronwall is primed to be one of the leagues prominent hitters and defensive scorers for years to come. He has embraced his role on the team and ran with it. Not bad for a “scrawny” Swedish defenseman that was once looked over by a scout from his own country because of his size.
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