Pittsburgh — The present was the big news topic when general manager Steve Yzerman talked after last Monday’s trade deadline, but the future was also discussed and relevant.
Mainly, because of the rapid development of two prime Red Wings prospects, defenseman Simon Edvinsson and forward Elmer Soderblom.
Yzerman has been pleased with the development of both young players.
“They both have had outstanding seasons,” Yzerman said during his media Zoom chat last week. “I personally have not been over there (Sweden, where both play), but we’ve got Nik Kronwall, Nick Lidstrom, Hakan (Andersson), Thomas Carlsson, we’ve got several people in Sweden that have been there to watch them play. I’ve seen a lot of video.”
What Yzerman has seen from watching both play for Frolunda is two big, young players with skill.
“Both kids are in real good programs, good organizations and they’re developing really well, so it’s encouraging,” Yzerman said.
Edvinsson, 19, was the Wings’ first-round pick last summer, the sixth player selected overall.
Scouting services raved about Edvinsson’s skating and offensive abilities. But this season, while playing in the Swedish Elite League against men, Edvinsson has displayed a versatile game with some physicality to his game and an even better offensive skill set than originally thought.
In 44 games, Edvinsson had two goals and 17 assists, with a plus-13 rating and evoked comparisons, especially in terms of the dominance of the season, to Moritz Seider, who thrived in the SHL last year and made a smooth transition to the Wings this season.
“Simon has done extremely well,” Yzerman said. “He’s a different player than Moritz Seider, but he’s had a real impact for a 19-year-old in a very good league. He’s had a tremendous impact in the Swedish League.”
Much has been speculated about Edvinsson’s future next season. Given his performance in the SHL, and size (6-foot-5, 210 pounds) and skating ability, not to mention a willingness to play a physical game, it wouldn’t be shocking if Edvinsson makes the NHL immediately, bypassing the minor leagues.
Soderblom was an intriguing prospect when the Wings selected him with the 159th selection overall (2019, sixth round), mainly because of his sheer size (6-foot-6, 220 pounds).
At the time, scouts liked many parts of Soderblom’s skill set, especially his talent around the net, defensive ability, and flashes of offensive ability for a man that big.
His skating and quickness were concerns, but Soderblom appeared committed to making himself an NHL player during development camps and during his regular seasons.
This season, Soderblom, 20, has exploded with a 21-goal season (33 points) in 52 games in which he’s been a viral sensation with some of his goals and drives to the net.
The intriguing question now is whether Soderblom now, could somehow also bypass Grand Rapids and arrive straight in the NHL considering his steady progress.
“We couldn’t be happy with Elmer’s development,” Yzerman said. “He’s just continued to get better. When we drafted him, we had him over here and he’s a tremendous athlete with great potential. He’s gone back to Sweden and worked hard on his game.
“He’s getting more confident. I get all these videos and see him shooting the puck in the net, and it just looks like he’s really maturing.”
The Swedish invasion might not be done with just Edvinsson and Soderblom.
The Wings also have defensemen William Wallinder (2020, second round) and Albert Johansson (2019, second round), and forward Theodor Niederbach (2020, second round).
Yzerman wouldn’t put a timetable as to when some of the young Swedes will begin playing in North America.
“We’ve got a couple more over there, too, that we’re really happy with how they’re coming, we’ll see what happens,” Yzerman said. “The Swedish playoffs are about to start. Elmer and Simon are on one of the better clubs in the league. Let’s see how they do. We look forward to getting them over here at some point, hopefully sooner than later.”