The much-anticipated offseason magic has begun in the head office at long last. The Detroit Red Wings signed Elmer Söderblom to a three-year entry-level contract on June 9th, 2022, bringing yet another Swede to the great state of Michigan.
Söderblom has dazzled the SHL throughout the course of his 2021-22 season and has also garnered the ferocious attention of Red Wings fans across the world. It truly is not every day that you see a big guy such as him pop up in highlight reel upon highlight reel, but alas, general manager Steve Yzerman has found yet another shining star in the vast mix of prospects.
Big Elmer’s Path to Detroit
Söderblom is a 6-foot-8, 250-pound winger from Goteborg, Sweden, and was drafted by Detroit in the sixth round (159th overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft. He has played for Frölunda HC of the SHL for the majority of the last three seasons after having previously played for the club at the U16, U18, and U20 levels. He also represented Sweden in international tournaments in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. At just 20 years old, Söderblom has already torn things up in one of the most competitive hockey leagues in Europe.
When you see him on the ice, the first thing you notice is how he makes anyone around him look like a youth hockey player. Once the shock factor of his stature passes, what you see is a skater with phenomenal stick handling skills and a keen ability to score goals. His keen hockey sense and offensive reading work together to make him a consistent contributor to the stats sheets.
Söderblom finished 10th in the SHL for goals scored in the 2021-22 regular season, with 21 scored through 52 games. He would also lead his team in scoring as well as the SHL in even-strength goals. These goals were coupled with 12 assists in the regular season along with three goals and three assists through nine postseason games.
But with all this said, Söderblom had an absolutely tremendous season overseas and was named the Young Player of the Year by the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs on June 15, 2022, coming in just ahead of fellow Red Wings prospect Simon Edvinsson. Moritz Seider won the same award for the 2020-21 season and has now become an integral part of this young Red Wings team, so potentially, the same fate could await Söderblom as well.
“It’s a great honour to win this award with all the great players who have won it before and all the others who were nominated. It was great to play in front of the fans again this season after the pandemic and I would like to thank them, and also my teammates. Frölunda has been huge for me and for my development. I think their program and the way they develop players is something special.”
Söderblom’s One Special Player
It’s been said many times, but Söderblom is an absolute unicorn of a player. Players of his stature rarely have half of the skating skills that he does, let alone his stick handling and goal-scoring abilities. Take Zdeno Chara, for example; standing at a whopping 6-foot-9, he is more of a big body and a force to be reckoned with while on the ice but is not a huge goal scorer, with 209 career goals through 14 seasons. Chara brings a remarkably physical and tactful style of defense to the ice and is not nearly the same kind of player that the up-and-coming Söderblom is.
Söderblom can stickhandle and score with apparent ease but still struggles a bit with his size in regards to his skating abilities. He generally has shorter and choppier strides than the average player, but in his defense, being an excellent skater and being 6-foot-8 do not necessarily go hand-in-hand, and he could be doing much worse. Although he may struggle with mobility at times, his smooth hands and spacial awareness in front of the net make him a tough target for opposing defense. He can use his size to his advantage by getting the prime spot right in front of the net for him to get scoring chances, make plays, and ultimately get pucks in net.
In the 2021 World Junior Championships, Söderblom played on a line aside current Red Wing Lucas Raymond, and it was a sight to see. When you combine the insanely gifted hockey sense and passing abilities of Raymond with the stickhandling and scoring skills of Söderblom, you’re cooking with gas within a matter of seconds. The duo had played together a number of times over the course of seven years between Frolunda HC and an assortment of Swedish national teams, and they have a strong chance of reuniting on the ice in the upcoming season at some point.
Söderblom will likely be joining the Red Wings for training camp in Traverse City this September and will have his chance to make the team alongside his fellow Swede Simon Edvinsson. It is hard to say whether or not Söderblom is ready to make the jump to the NHL just yet, but odds are he will be pretty close. One way or another, he will be playing hockey in the state of Michigan, and that is something worth being very, very excited about.
Delaney Rimer writes about the Detroit Red Wings for THW who brings a new perspective to the hockey scene as a young female in the industry. Formerly, she wrote for Octopus Thrower- a Detroit Red Wings fan blog.