Some of the top prospects of the Detroit Red Wings are currently playing in Europe.
In fact, eight of the top 10 scoring Detroit draft picks are playing in a variety of leagues on the other side of the Atlantic. Currently, Frolunda HC (SHL) have four top Detroit Red Wings prospects on their roster.
The 2022 World Junior Championships are being played in Gothenburg, Sweden starting December 26, 2021. The Detroit Red Wings should be well represented in the tournament as four players (Simon Edvinsson, Liam Down Nilsson, William Wallinder, and Theodor Niederbach) from Sweden should be named to the team.
Here is a look at the top scoring Detroit draft picks currently playing in Europe.
Many people close to the NHL believe that Liam Dower Nilsson may be the steal of the 2021 draft. Dower Nilsson slipped all the way into the 5th round before Detroit selected him at #134. This year, playing primarily for Frolunda in the J20, Dower Nilsson has scored seven goals and 17 points in 14 games. He has also dressed for four games at the SHL level. His strong play should provide him with the opportunity to play in his hometown of Gothenburg, for the 2022 World Junior Championships at Christmas.
Now 28, Alexander Kadeykin is no longer really a Red Wings prospect. However, because he is from Russia, his NHL rights remain with Detroit indefinitely. In April 2020, Kadeykin informed his KHL team, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, that he was signing with the Red Wings. For some reason, the signing never materialized. Kadeykin is enjoying his best season in the KHL where he has scored five goals and 17 points in 23 games. The 6’5″ center could be a solid 2nd or 3rd line player for the Red Wings next year if they decide to move any forwards prior to next season.
Elmer Soderblom is starting to show some offence now that he is a full-time player for Frolunda (SHL). Soderblom is 6’8″ and is a bit of a later bloomer who could pan out and be a steal as a 6th round draft pick from 2019. Soderblom has been showing off the excellent puck skills he has for a big man. So far, Soderblom has scored seven goals and 10 points in 16 SHL games.
Kasper Kotkansalo was originally drafted in the 3rd round, 71st overall by Detroit in 2017. The Covid-19 pandemic impacted Kotkansalo’s ability to play for Boston University (NCAA) last year. He did play for Assat (Liiga) but, was not signed by Detroit by the June 2021 deadline and is now free to sign with any NHL team. He is currently having a breakout year playing for HIFK (Liiga). The left-shot defenseman has scored four goals and nine points in 18 games. The Red Wings are quite familiar with Kotkansalo, and if he continues to produce, it wouldn’t surprise me if they signed him to an AHL deal once his contract with HIFK has expired.
Simon Edvinsson was recently drafted 6th overall by the Red Wings. After splitting time with three teams last year, Edvinsson is a full-time player for Frolunda (SHL) this year. Edvinsson is having a breakout season having scored nine points and a +6 rating in 16 SHL games. Edvinsson will likely sign a contract with Detroit and possibly play in North America next year. There is no doubt that Edvinsson will play for Sweden at the World Junior Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden starting in December.
William Wallinder is a 2020 draft pick, 32nd overall by Detroit. This year, Wallinder has moved to the Rogle BK organization and has split time between the J20 and SHL teams. In 20 games at both levels, the left-shot defender has scored three goals and eight points. At this point, Wallinder remains unsigned by the Red Wings. If Wallinder continues to develop, he could join the young defense core in Detroit in one or two years. Wallinder should also get the call to play for Sweden in the World Junior Championships this year.
Otto Kivenmaki is a long shot to ever be signed by Detroit. He was a 7th round draft pick, 191st overall in 2018. Kivenmaki is currently in his 3rd full season playing in Liiga. So far, Kivenmaki has scored two goals and seven points in 17 games. Kivenmaki must be signed by Detroit before June 2022 or they will forfeit his NHL rights.
Albert Johansson is a former 2nd round selection, 60th overall in the 2019 draft. The left-shot defenseman is currently on loan to Farjestad (SHL). In 14 games, Johansson has scored one goal and seven points while playing very good defense. Johansson has already signed his entry-level contract with Detroit and should make his North American debut next year.