Detroit Red Wings prospect Elmer Soderblom has been tearing up the ice in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) throughout the 2021-22 season. Currently playing for Frolunda HC, Soderblom has been a pleasant surprise this season, as his name pops up in discussion nearly as frequently as that of Simon Edvinsson — his teammate and fellow Red Wings prospect. So, who is Soderblom, and could we be seeing him donning the winged wheel next season?
Let’s dive in to learn a bit more about the prospect.
Soderblom Was a Late-Round Selection in 2019
Soderblom was drafted by the Red Wings in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL draft (159th overall). He has played for Frolunda HC U16, J18, and J20 teams, as well as representing Sweden on the international stage in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. A few things stick out about him as a player, but his size is the first thing people are drawn to. Standing 6-foot-8, and weighing 249 pounds, he commands the ice simply by being on it, but does so effectively by being able to skate relatively well for his size.
In the 2020 World Junior Championship, Soderblom donned the Swedish insignia once again to take the ice on the biggest stage for young hockey players. He was playing alongside fellow Red Wings prospects Lucas Raymond, Theodor Niederbach, and Albert Johannson, and was definitely a sight to see.
On just the second day of the tournament, Soderblom scored a goal that most players can only dream of pulling off as smoothly as he did. He was able to work the puck between his legs and around the Czech goaltender to pull Sweden to a 5-1 lead, a remarkable feat for a player his size.
The highlight-reel goals kept coming, though, as just a few games later — in the same tournament — Soderblom worked his magic once again. That in-between the legs goal was just so nice that he did it twice, this time against Finland, which gave the Swedes a 2-0 lead. Those two goals testify for what a special player he truly is, even though he flew low on the NHL draft radar in 2019.
Take a look at the latter goal below:
With moves like that, Red Wings fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
A Goal Scoring Giant
Players of his stature are rarely able to garner points the way that Soderblom does, but rather put up a more physical and defensive game. Not only does he lay hits and use his size to his advantage, but he has an absolute rocket of a shot that has pushed him to the forefront of scoring for Frolunda HC. He is truly a “unicorn” of a player, as he has 21 goals and 12 assists (33 total points) through 51 games, and is in a four-way tie for most goals in the SHL.
Speaking of how he is a remarkably special player, he continues to show the world this with each and every game he plays. In the March 15 game against Växjö, Soderblom controlled the puck gracefully down the ice, beat four defensemen, and then found the back of the net in what appeared to be an effortless manner. This goal alone could stand as a cornerstone in the argument that he is NHL material, since it not only showcases his dexterity for his size, but also the hockey sense and awareness about him in games that is a crucial element of young players in the league.
Is Soderblom Truly League Ready?
It almost feels silly to be genuinely debating if a sixth-round pick from nearly three years ago is fit for coming up to the NHL, but Soderblom has proven himself to the point in which this is a debate that cannot be ignored. The biggest question when asking if Soderblom is ready to see NHL action would likely be if he can keep up with the pace due to his size and skating speed (or lack thereof). Although this is a genuine concern, Soderblom is truly a skilled skater, aside from speed given his stature, and is able to handle the puck well enough to compensate for the lack of speed that one may be looking for.
The SHL by no means plays a slow-paced game, so Soderblom is already used to keeping up with the speed of those around him and is performing well under these circumstances. From the crafty-yet-graceful in-between the legs goals in the 2020 World Junior Championship, to racking up goals in one of the top hockey leagues in Europe, there is no doubt that Soderblom has the skills needed to contend for time in the NHL.
If he were to come spend some time in Detroit, would he fit in on the offensive lines? Most signs point to yes. The Red Wings’ offense could benefit greatly from not only another tall skater, but also one that consistently puts up points. Soderblom is a consistent point scorer, with the majority of his points being goals, and plays a tactful game but can still deal out hits when he needs to. The Red Wings currently have Michael Rasmussen, who stands 6-foot-6, and is more brawn than brains on the ice so there is plenty of room for another big body who plays a more intricate game to round out the offense.
Odds are that Soderblom would have a stint in Grand Rapids with the Griffins before coming to the Red Wings, but the chances of him coming over feel pretty likely as his successful season comes to a close in Sweden. He would be one in a handful of Swedes that could be joining the Wings for the 2022-23 season, and is definitely a prospect to be excited about.