The Detroit Red Wings are staring down two major needs to its roster with the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft — centres and left defensemen. While the Wings would surely like to address the possibility of drafting its next franchise goaltender, general manager Steve Yzerman has hinted that since he does not see a goalie falling within the top-10, it is likely that will be the focus of their pick at 22nd.
However, this year’s draft is scattered with potential break-out talent, but with very few NHL-ready calibur of players. What the Red Wings need to do with the sixth pick is to go after the player that can fill one of those two roles mentioned above, and is as close to NHL-ready as possible.
Related: Red Wings 2021 Draft Coverage
With that in mind, the player most likely to fit that bill and be available at the sixth position is Simon Edvinsson from Frölunda HC of the SHL in Sweden.
Imitation is Flattery
Top prospects Owen Power and Luke Hughes are expected to return to the University of Michigan next season, and Brandt Clarke will likely spend another year in juniors, leaving Edvinsson as the only high-ranking defenseman with immediate professional experience. Edvinsson spent this past season in the SHL and could be poised to make the jump to the Grand Rapids Griffins as early as next season.
Standing at 6-foot-5 and 203 pounds, his “combination of size, offensive skill, and decision-making ability has drawn comparisons to Tampa Bay Lightning star Victor Hedman,” said Alex Hobson, a prospects contributor here at The Hockey Writers.
Being compared to one of the best defensemen of the last decade is not just a coincidence because they share the same native country. No, it is the rest of Edvinsson’s game that draws on the similarities. His strengths start with his skating, which is generally uncommon in a player his size at his age. He also utilizes his large wingspan to break up plays with an active stick and control his opponents along the boards.
As previously mentioned, Edvinsson is the only top-five defenseman that has professional league experience and could make an immediate impact on a team’s AHL affiliate. He still needs to work on improving his shot, but — for the most part — Edvinsson already has a complete, well-rounded game. Once he can figure that out, he will have all the tools to be an all-situations, top-pairing defenseman in the NHL.
What They’re Saying
With a lot of the consensus being that if Edvinsson were in last year’s draft, he would have been a low top-10 pick, this year he is often projected to land in the top-five. However, with the uncertainties surrounding this year’s draft class, there is still speculation as to where he will be picked.
“Edvinsson is extremely mobile across all zones of the ice. He is always involved in the play and appears equally confident on both ends. He does not shy away from physicality and uses his large frame with control. In addition to his physical strengths, his vision and spatial awareness are refined. He is constantly checking his surroundings and shifts into different positions when needed. Edvinsson possesses one of the strongest two-way defensive games in this draft class and his variety of skills presents him as a player that is incredibly mature for his age and experience.” – Alexa Potack, Dobber Prospects
“In Edvinsson, I see a defender who doesn’t have tons of strength and will need to add that and more decisiveness in his strides to make it as an NHL player. But if he does, and I’m certain he’s capable of it, Edvinsson can shape into an all-situations top-pair defender.” – Eric D, On The Forecheck
“The 6-foot-5 Swedish blueliner has the size, mobility, puck-moving and offensive upside to project as a potential top-pair NHL defenceman. Two of our 10 scouts pegged him at No. 1, but four scouts ranked Edvinsson outside the Top 10. It’s that kind of year.” – Bob McKenzie, TSN
Fit With the Red Wings
Edvinsson is exactly what the Wings need in a large, left-handed, mobile, puck-moving, offensive defenseman. With another year in the SHL or on the Griffins in the AHL to develop his shot, Edvinsson would add another big body to the Wings blue line. Pairing Edvinsson with Moritz Seider would give the Wings a feared top-pair tandem that has not been seen since Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer patrolled the New Jersey Devils rearguard.
Essentially what this draft comes down to is who Yzerman feels best exemplifies his plan for the Wings rebuild. With the most glaring holes being on the left side on defense and depth down the middle, it may come down to who is the best overall player available when Detroit is on the clock.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
No matter who is selected with the first five picks in this year’s draft, if Edvinsson is available with the sixth overall selection, the Wings need to pick him up.
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Born and raised in Michigan, Kyle Knopp started playing hockey when he was 3 years old. Knopp has played, coached, or worked at every level of ice hockey — including three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings where he was part of the Stanley Cup Championship team in 2008. He covers the Detroit Red Wings, hosts The Grind Line and THW Podcasts, and is the editor of THW’s Morning Skate newsletter. You can follow him on Twitter @THW_Knopp.