Steve Yzerman has options if he mines Sweden again with Detroit Red Wings’ top draft pick

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings have had great success mining Sweden for their draft picks, and could for a second straight year use their first selection on a player out of that Nordic hockey powerhouse.

When asked during a video conference Tuesday afternoon which NHL players he admired, top 2021 draft prospect Simon Edvinsson, a defenseman, didn’t hesitate.

“One I really looked up to is of course Nicklas Lidstrom,” Edvinsson said.

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The Wings drafted Lidstrom in the third round in 1989, and he went on to help them win four Stanley Cups.

“He’s a legend here in Sweden,” Edvinsson said. “Every defender knows who he is. He’s a terrific guy, he makes great effort for team. When he played, he was a leader, and that’s the goal.”

The Wings hold the sixth and 22nd pick in the first round of the draft, which is scheduled to be held virtually July 23. Michigan star defenseman Owen Powers is projected to be the first overall selection, but beyond that, it’s tougher to predict who goes where. If Edvinsson is available, he’d be a nice addition at 6 feet 5 and 207 pounds. He and fellow big man Moritz Seider could be an imposing pairing down the road.

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Edvinsson split the 2020-21 season between Vasteras IK (five points in 14 games) in Sweden’s second-tier league and Frolunda (one point in 10 games) in the Swedish Hockey League. One of his teammates with Frolunda was Lucas Raymond, the Wings’ first-round selection, at No. 4, in 2020.

“I trained with him this week,” Edvinsson said. “We talk a little bit.

Another possible option out of Sweden for general manager Steve Yzerman is William Eklund. The 5-10, 172-pound center/left wing posted 23 points in 40 games with Djurgarden in the SHL this past season. Eklund said he thinks he needs “another year in Europe to develop into a better player,” noting he needs to improve his shooting. But the Wings don’t expect their first-round pick to make an immediate transition to the NHL — Seider didn’t, and neither did Raymond.

Ultimately Eklund knows where he wants to fit.

“I want to be a top-six forward,” he said. “Maybe not the first year, but work myself into that spot. I think I bring energy to teams. I want to be an offensive threat every time I touch the puck. I want to be a guy you can count on in different situations.”

While Lidstrom is the greatest of the Wings’ Swedish draft picks, there’s also Tomas Holmstrom (257th, 1994) Henrik Zetterberg (210th, 1999) and Niklas Kronwall (29th, 2000), Johan Franzen (97th, 2004) and Gustav Nyquist (121st, 2008).

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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