Red Wings prospect Simon Edvinsson stoked by new additions: ‘It’s just gonna be fun’

Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman at the end of last season said improving defensively was a top priority heading into next year.

He’s taken matters into his own hands a bit over the last two days, signing defensemen Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta and adding Mark Pysyk on Thursday morning.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about Detroit’s new additions on the back end are what they mean for someone who hasn’t even played an NHL game yet: 2021 first-round pick Simon Edvinsson, who will be vying for a roster spot come training camp.

Edvinsson, 19, said at Red Wings development camp Thursday he noticed the flurry of additions to Detroit’s roster — and realizes the challenge that’ll be in front of him when training camp begins.

“It was a lot of free agents that got here, and of course, good players. It’s gonna be hard competition,” Edvinsson said. “It’s just gonna be fun. Everything is getting harder and that’s something that’s gonna develop me as a person, too.”

With a full season of Swedish Hockey League experience under his belt, Edvinsson now will try to make a transition similar to that of Moritz Seider, who in June was named the NHL’s top rookie from a season ago after spending a season in the SHL with Rögle.

When Seider came over, the expectations were a little bit tempered. Not a lot of fans had actually seen him play or could contextualize the news coming out of Sweden that he’d been named SHL’s defenseman of the year. Plus, it’d been awhile since a Wings’ top pick had come in and stolen the show. But after a dominant rookie season, people are starting to draw parallels between the two young Euro defensemen — and they’re excited.

Edvinsson said he feels the anticipation.

“Yeah, of course,” he said when asked about whether he can feel the anticipation of his arrival. “You want to take a place, you want to make things happen for the team. You want to be a part of the team, and you want to help the team win a Stanley Cup, also, for the fans. So, yeah, everything is positive about that.”

Still, there are a couple of distinctions to draw between the pre-NHL careers of Edvinsson and the man whose footsteps he’s now trying to follow.

For starters, Seider was two years removed from being drafted when he made the team. His dominant SHL season came after a full season in the American Hockey League. Edvinsson’s SHL season with Frolunda, on the other hand, came immediately following his draft year, which could potentially explain why he didn’t quite match Seider’s accolade-filled SHL campaign.

Plus, Seider had experience playing on North American rinks when he came over for training camp last summer. Edvinsson has yet to see that style of the game.

While speaking to the media Thursday, Yzerman, who this week met Edvinsson in-person for the first time since th, said he likes the physical attributes Edvinsson possesses and that he’ll be given a chance to make the team.

“We’ll see how he does, but seeing him here in the development camp, he’s obviously very tall, he’s very thick,” Yzerman said. “He looks very strong. His skating is excellent, so we’re optimistic, we’ll give him an opportunity, and if he’s ready to play and play a regular role, that’ll be great for us.”

Yzerman, in explaining the rash of impact signings, also talked Thursday about the two options he had for this offseason: He could either let prospects battle among themselves for roster spots, or he could create legit competition that helps stabilize the team long term. He opted for the latter.

“If we come in and have too many good players, wouldn’t that be a great problem to have?” Yzerman said. “We’ll figure it out at that point. I’d rather have our young guys … work their way through the steps, as opposed to putting them in the NHL because we just decided that they’re going there, and then at Christmas or middle of November, ‘Jeez, we’re not very good. They’re struggling,’ and have to send them down.

“It’s not good for the team or the individual.”

Due to travel issues, Edvinsson missed most of the development camp. He arrived in Detroit late Wednesday and hopped in a 3-on-3 tournament Thursday morning to close things out. He’ll be staying in Detroit for the next three weeks while he waits for World Junior Championships (Aug. 9-20, Edmonton/Red Deer, Alberta), where he’ll represent Sweden.

In the meantime, Edvinsson plans to push himself and get to know the city he hopes to call home in October. He’s ready to enjoy the ride — and the work that comes with it.

“I want to show everything what I got,” he said. “I’m not gonna hold back.”

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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