Elias Salomonsson — 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Elias Salomonsson

2021-22 Team: Skellefteå AIK (SHL)
Date of Birth: Aug. 31, 2001
Place of Birth: Skellefteå, SWE
Ht: 6-foot-1″ Wt: 183 pounds
Shoots: Right
Position: Defense
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible

Rankings

After an excellent 2020-21 season, Elias Salomonsson was ranked as one of the top defensemen in the 2022 draft in a lot of pre-season rankings. However, it’s been a lackluster 2021-22 season for the Swedish blueliner, causing him to drop down the rankings. Still an extremely talented player with a massive ceiling, the concerns surrounding his defensive game have caused many scouts to drop him out of their first round and all scouts to drop him out of the top 20. Scouts were first put off by his lackluster performance at last summer Hilinka Gretzky tournament, and he’s done little to win them back this season. He’s been a good player for Skellefteå AIK at the J20 level but didn’t dominate in the way many had hoped. This continued into the IIHF U18 World Championships, were he was fine, but not fantastic, as Sweden won gold.

Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Salomonsson’s talent level is undeniable, he has all of the tools to be an effective, puck-moving, top-four defensemen at the next level, but he has struggled to utilize these tools this season. His defensive issues have also been on full display this season, making him a high-risk, high-reward pick.

The highlight of Salomonsson’s game is his skating. He displays excellent four-way mobiliity, crisp transitions, and excellent edge work and balance when engaged in physical battles. His skating allows him to be an effective puck-mover who can evade forecheckers, carry the puck through the neutral zone, and even into the offensive zone. He likes to jump up into the play and has the mobility to get back on defense. He uses his skating well defensively, although there are times he could use it better, which I’ll touch on later. It also helps him offensively, outside of just his excellent transition game, he walks the offensive blue line with ease and is able to quickly attack open spaces on the ice because of his skating. His skating is elite amongst his peers and it’s a big reason he’s still a highly-rated prospect despite some deficiencies.

THW 2022 NHL Entry Draft Guide Shane Wright and Logan Cooley
Shane Wright and Logan Cooley (The Hockey Writers)

He has an excellent shot from the point, possessing a powerful slap shot and a good wrist shot. These attributes have made him a mainstay on the Skellefteå AIK J20’s top power-play unit. He’s used them effectively at this level, as he’s tied for the league lead in goals with 11, this total also give him the most goals amongst under-18 players. His well-rounded shot gives him options offensively, he can tee off from the point, but can also creep down into the zone, using his solid wrist shot to beat goalies. An underrated aspect of his shot is his ability to consistently get pucks through traffic, using his skating. He is excellent at gliding across the blue line to change his angle and miss defenders.

He’s an excellent passer as well. He displays a clean breakout pass with the vision and skill to execute long stretch passes from his own zone. He’s also very calm under pressure, rarely panicking with the puck and making mistakes. Offensively, he shows off good playmaking. As a quarterback on the power play, he distributes the puck well and can pass through seams. Once again, he utilizes his skating to improve his playmaking, pulling defenders out of positions with his feet before hitting an open man in the zone. His excellent passing makes him a dual-threat puck mover, able to skate, or pass the puck up ice effectively.

His defensive game is where you begin to see issues in Salomonsson’s game. His positioning and ability to read the game in his own zone leave a lot to be desired. He looks lost without the puck in the defensive zone a lot of the times and frequently fails to pick up his man. He uses his good balance and decent size well when engaged in battles in front of the net and in the corners, but he often picks the wrong times to engage physically or fails to do so entirely. His one-on-one defending is good at times, using his reach and elite skating to funnel attackers into harmless positions or taking the puck. But, he displays poor gap control in one-on-one situations and often gets beat because of it. If he can improve his decision making and positioning, he has the tools to be a good defender. However, right now, these issues severely limit him and will only become a bigger problem as he moves up to the next level.

Salomonsson has all the tools to be a top-four puck-moving defender in the NHL, but has yet to display the defensive ability to leave scouts confident that he in this potential. Right now, the idea of Salomonsson is more impressive than the player himself. I’m more confident that he will overcome these issues, mainly because he is a very late August birthday, which can often lead to later development in players. Defensemen also usually have longer development paths than forwards. There are concerns about his game, but most of them will come with experience and reps, I would be confident in him providing excellent value if a team can draft him early in the second round.

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Elias Salomonsson — NHL Draft Projection

Salomonsson will likely be selected within the first 10 picks of the second round, with the possibility that a team picking late in the first round takes a chance on his enticing toolset. I would be surprised to see him drop below the 43rd pick, and I would be surprised to see him go above the 28th pick.

Quotables

“Salomonsson was suspended one game for a check from behind, missing the semifinal, and I thought he was fine the rest of the way. That’s kind of been the story of his season, too — fine. He just hasn’t progressed like most of the other kids who were “names” coming into this year. His problem is that his actual tools are better than the way he utilizes them. Second-rounder for me at this point.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from ‘Wheeler: U18 World Championship notebook, quotes, and tournament all-star and MVP ballot’, 3/2/22).

“Salomonsson has a high ceiling with his excellent puck-moving ability and playmaking skills. His tool kit offensively is on par with the best defensemen in the draft. Though a lot has been made about his defensive struggles, it will be important to let Salomonsson further develop his top qualities. It would be so easy to ensnare his creative talent with harsh restrictions. Salomonsson’s overall development will probably take longer time than we previously thought. At this point of the season (January 2022), he looks like a player that will require some grooming by the team that drafts him. Even though he could slip to the second round, Salomonsson has a grand upside for a team that is willing to be patient.” – Jacob Smeds, SwedishProspects.com

“Elias Salomonsson is a 6-foot-2, mobile defenseman with great offensive instincts. He’s an efficient and competitive defenceman, who plays well on both sides of the puck; Salomonsson is smart and plays with a strong understanding of what is necessary to get the job done. Through each step of Salomonsson’s career, offensive production has been his area of dominance but he has to focus on his defensive positioning to continue his growth as a two-way defenseman. He shows poise with the puck on his stick and can execute under pressure to push offense from the back end.

His defensive game has some warts and positioning and reads can be sloppy, but some of that will polish over time. The comfort level he has under pressure and confidence for a player as young as he is incredible. Elias Salomonsson is comparable to a poor mans Erik Karlsson in terms of his playstyle. Karlsson was taken 15th in his draft year,
so I think Salomonsson could be taken at a similar spot in the upcoming draft.” – Hockeywizscouting.com

Strengths

  • Skating
  • Passing
  • Shootings
  • Playmaking

Under Construction — Improvements to Make

  • Defensive positioning
  • Defensive decision making
  • Could use added muscle

NHL Potential

Salomonsson has the potential to be a true top-four, puck-moving defenseman who can quarterback a power play at the next level. His offensive tools are high-end, while his skating is elite. His defensive issues rightfully worry some scouts, as he will be a liability if he can’t hammer out these deficiencies. His potential is a second-pairing defensemen, who produces good offensive numbers, including good goal totals for a defensemen, who will struggle if matched up against the opposition’s top lines. There’s a small possibility that he completely transforms his defensive reads and positioning, which would give him top-pairing potential, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offense – 7/10, Defense – 5/10

Awards/Achievemnets

Salomonsson led the J20 Nationell on goals by a defensemen and won an under-18 gold medal.

Elias Salomonsson Statistics

Videos

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