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Top 40 Countdown: No. 12

The player who checks in at No. 12 on the Chicago Wolves’ Top 40 Goal-scorers Countdown, presented by Jewel-Osco, enjoyed a lengthy and productive career on two continents — but his hockey career might eventually pale in comparison to his son’s.

Niklas Andersson was selected by the Quebec Nordiques in the fourth round of the 1989 NHL Draft — nine years before he found his way to the Chicago Wolves. Andersson’s route from his hometown of Kungalv, Sweden, to Chicago wound through eight teams in four leagues — highlighted by a season-and-a-half with the NHL’s New York Islanders, where he stacked up 26 goals and 43 assists in 121 games.

A 5-foot-9 center with a precise shot and great playmaking vision, Andersson joined the Wolves at the outset of the 1998-99 campaign and became one of the team’s top three point-producers alongside Steve Maltais and Chris Marinucci. He ranked second on the 1998-99 team with 47 assists and third with 64 points as the Wolves won the division title and came up one round shy of another Turner Cup Finals appearance.

Andersson spent two more seasons with the Wolves, though both were broken up by occasional stints with the NHL’s Islanders, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames. Despite appearing in only 52 regular-season games for the 1999-2000 Wolves, Andersson ranked fifth with 20 goals. During the team’s run to the 2000 Turner Cup title, Andersson delivered six goals (tied for second on the squad) in just nine appearances.

Andersson enjoyed the best goal-scoring season of his long professional career in 2000-01 as he paced the Wolves with 33 goals in 66 games. When the playoffs arrived, he switched to playmaker mode and stacked up a team-high 14 assists in 16 games as the Wolves reached the Turner Cup Finals for the third time in four years.

After posting 70 goals and 107 assists in 183 games during three years with the Wolves, Andersson returned to Sweden and played 10 more seasons in the country’s top league. He retired as he turned 40 and accepted a European scouting job for the Los Angeles Kings.

Presumably, one of the players he scouted was his son, Lias, who became the New York Rangers’ first-round pick (seventh overall) in the 2017 draft. Lias, a 6-foot center, spent little time in the AHL before joining the Rangers. He amassed three goals and six assists in 66 games spread over three seasons before being traded to his father’s organization in October. Lias, still just 22 years old, has split this season between the Kings (2 goals in 13 games) and the AHL’s Ontario Reign (4 goals, 8 assists in 12 games).

Want to enjoy more of the countdown?

No. 40: Gage Quinney
No. 39: Tim Breslin
No. 38: Nathan Oystrick
No. 37: Ben Simon
No. 36: Curtis McKenzie
No. 35: Kamil Piros
No. 34: Mark Mancari
No. 33: Simon Gamache
No. 32: Guy Larose
No. 31: Wade Megan
No. 30: Shane Harper
No. 29: Michael Davies
No. 28: Karl Stewart
No. 27: Cory Larose
No. 26: Pat Cannone
No. 25: Brian Wiseman
No. 24: Colin Stuart
No. 23: Brian Noonan
No. 22: Tim Bergland
No. 21: Joey Crabb
No. 20: Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman
No. 19: Dan Currie
No. 18: Dan Plante
No. 17: Bob Nardella
No. 16: Brandon Pirri
No. 15: Steve Martins
No. 14: Spencer Machacek
No. 13: Kevin Doell