Red Wings’ Söderblom May Beat Edvinsson to the NHL

As the start of the regular season approaches, the debate continues over which prospects might be cut from the opening-night roster. Although most people thought that Elmer Söderblom was a ways away from being NHL-ready, he’s close to proving them wrong. 

Elmer Soderblom Detroit Red Wings
Elmer Soderblom, Detroit Red Wings (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

So, what has he done during the preseason to make his case for a spot on the Detroit Red Wings? Here’s a look at the last couple of weeks and what makes Söderblom so special.

Söderblom’s Preseason Preparation

Throughout the prospect tournament and training camp, the big Swede has lived up to the hype. He has been consistently confident and collected throughout these two weeks and impressed his teammates and spectators at both events. This has been an opportunity for prospects on the cusp of making the roster to prove themselves, and that is exactly what Söderblom has done.

In the first game of the preseason against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the entire Red Wings team performed remarkably well. To put it simply, a bunch of rookies shut down some of the better-known veterans in the league, which was a beautiful sight to see. Söderblom was no exception as he scored a beautiful goal assisted by Jonatan Berggren that had everyone jumping for joy.

It’s plays like that that make him such a remarkable and unique talent. You would never expect someone who is 6-foot-8 and almost 250 pounds to be such a solid skater while also having such strong puck-handling skills. Söderblom got around Sidney Crosby to get the puck up to Berggren, who then set up the perfect scoring chance for him around the net. This was by no means a flashy goal like those we’ve seen from him in the past, but it was exactly what he needed to do, which proves that he has pure skill driving his game.

As the Red Wings faced the Chicago Blackhawks, Söderblom took on his brother Arvid Söderblom who was in net for Chicago. He almost scored on him just under two minutes into the first period, but Adam Erne ended up scoring off the rebound. Throughout the game, Söderblom was noticeably the best Red Wings player out there and kept the momentum in his team’s favor every shift. It was remarkable.

He was on a line with Erne and Pius Suter, which generated the only two Red Wings goals of the game, and it was absolutely electric. It could have been the combination of Söderblom trying to prove his case for a roster spot and Erne trying to keep his, but I can see this line translating well to the regular season, especially since they were the most effective and productive line on the ice. However, someone will need to be bumped out for Söderblom to step in.

Will Söderblom Make the Team?

All in all, Söderblom has what it takes to be a successful NHL player in the near future, and by near future, I mean this season and possibly even opening night. Watching him play his first NHL-level game against seasoned veterans on the Penguins roster was very telling of the kind of athlete he is. He didn’t just play well enough to be noticed, he played well enough to stand out.

Related: Red Wings’ Elmer Soderblom is Ready for NHL Action

Every time Söderblom is on the ice, he makes a play and makes himself noticeable. Although his height helps, he has a big game to match his stature. He has the mobility, finesse, strength, and skill with the puck needed to keep up with his peers, and he has displayed that throughout the prospect tournament, training camp, and both preseason games so far. It is hard to find a reason for him not to earn a roster spot to start the season because he deserves it.

But is there room for him, or if he gets called up, who should be sent down? There are a lot of questions about how the team will look if Söderblom stays in Detroit but, for now, he deserves the opportunity.

One Step Ahead of a Fellow Swede

Another player who was expected to make the opening-night roster is Simon Edvinsson. From what I have seen these last few weeks, he is closer to being NHL-ready than Edvinsson. I initially thought the opposite, but after seeing them play in the preseason, I changed my mind. They are both remarkably talented players, but the consistency in Söderblom’s game is not there for Edvinsson just yet.  

“They [Edvinsson and Söderblom] look good. They’ve played pro hockey (in Sweden). The attention to detail, they’re assertive and calm with the puck. They have poise and know how to handle the physicality. I’m sure they got familiar throughout the prospect tournament, getting familiar with smaller ice.”

– Dylan Larkin (from “’They look good’: Swedes Soderblom, Edvinsson making an impression for Red Wings,” The Detroit News, 9/28/22)

The game against the Blackhawks was Edvinsson’s first preseason action since training camp, and he came out strong. He did not play terribly by any means, but he fell short in a few major areas. He had an eye-opening turnover that, thankfully, didn’t end up in the back of the net – a play that could’ve likely been prevented had he been more reactive.

Turnovers have been a recent issue for him, and it is one of his biggest areas that need improvement. That said, he is still a strong and talented defenseman, he just needs a better handle on the small aspects of his game before he is ready to face NHL forwards.

The defenseman looks too casual more often than he should, and it has caused him to make a lot of mistakes – some more harmful than others. Edvinsson is just a little too slow to make the right decisions and has a tendency to be slightly too risky with the puck. Spending some time in Grand Rapids would be the best option for his development and to work out these kinks. He has a very bright future, but a little bit more development in the American Hockey League would make his chances in the NHL even better.

Simon Edvinsson Team Sweden
Simon Edvinsson, Team Sweden (Photo by Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

All in all, it is hard to know if one or both of these prospects will be in Detroit to start the season or be called up part way through it. Six preseason games remain for Söderblom to cement his case for a roster spot and for Edvinsson to improve upon his defensive mishaps.

The next preseason game is on Sept. 30, when the Red Wings host the Washington Capitals at Little Caesars Arena. I’m guessing it won’t be a complete shock to see Söderblom in the lineup on Oct. 14 for the home opener, but we shall see!

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