‘They look good’: Swedes Soderblom, Edvinsson making an impression for Red Wings

Detroit News

Detroit — Dylan Larkin was asked a question about Elmer Soderblom and Simon Edvinsson and Larkin couldn’t resist.

You have a feeling somehow or other, down the line, there’s going to have to be a nickname. Larkin was quick with his comeback.

“You mean the Swedish basketball team,” said Larkin of the 6-foot-8 Soderblom and 6-foot-6 Edvinsson.

The two large Swedes were much talked about heading into training camp and have pretty much lived up to the hype thus far.

Soderblom had a goal and four hits in Tuesday’s 6-2 exhibition victory over Pittsburgh, while Edvinsson was going to play his first game Wednesday.

“They look good,” Larkin said. “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.

“You saw Elmer make a nice play to (Jonatan) Berggren and get it back (Tuesday) to score, they play real well with the puck and that’s something if you have to be taught, it takes a while and slows your development.”

Soderblom wasn’t in the original lineup against Pittsburgh, but was pressed into action when Jakub Vrana didn’t feel well.

“It’s a tough ask of him,” coach Derek Lalonde said of Soderblom. “Especially with the fact he played three rookie games, it was a scheduled day off, was moved back a day, and all of a sudden at 9:30 in the morning, he gets a call to say, ‘We need you tonight,’

“He was excited about it. He skated, competed, and he reflected most of our guys, with the high compete level.”

Soderblom’s overwhelming size continues to be an interesting option for the Red Wings to possess, particularly as a net-front presence on the power play.

“My first look with Elmer was the first (prospects) game in Traverse City and his body and soft hands around the net (stood out),” Lalonde said. “Especially on the power play, he had his stick on a couple of pucks, pucks went through his legs, one deflection. Some high-level skill stuff, which is intriguing from a big body.”

Grain of salt

The Red Wings dominated a veteran, star-studded Pittsburgh lineup but Lalonde took the victory with a “grain of salt.”

“We got what we deserved; our guys competed real hard,” Lalonde said. “It’s hard to look much into it. Pittsburgh had most of its starting lineup but it’s such a veteran-laden lineup. Those guys, they’re experienced enough and so skilled, they got out in those preseason games and get what they need. It’s a process for them.

“Not looking too much into that, but it’s a good positive for us and again, the guys got what they deserved. The work ethic, they went out and earned it and got rewarded for it.”

Lalonde credited the goaltending of Victor Brattstrom and Sebastian Cossa, who both made big momentum saves when needed, and complimented the penalty-killing, which neutralized all nine Pittsburgh power plays in the game.

“We do not want to get those penalties, and we earned those penalties,” Lalonde said. “A lot of them were teaching, stopping your feet, reaching, one hand on your stick, but we got some really good reps on the penalty kill.”

Assistant coach Bob Boughner oversees the penalty kill, and it was Boughner who Lalonde copied extensively when Lalonde ran the PK in Tampa.

“So it was a natural fit,” Lalonde said. “You could see the aggressiveness to it and you can see start to come together, and getting a lot of reps certainly helped.”

Earning looks

Defenseman Jeremie Biakabutuka was in Tuesday’s lineup, as the free agent on a tryout continues to earn playing time in the exhibition season.

Biakabutuka was invited to the prospects tournament and played well, earned an invitation to training camp, and now got into the lineup.

“He keeps earning looks,” Lalonde said. “Every time we have a practice, a game, or a skate, we reevaluate our roster for the next day. A lot of it will come from the staff. Some of it will come from Steve (Yzerman) and his management group. They continually want to see him in situations. It’s a credit to him and something he’s earned throughout camp.

“He can skate. He’s a driven kid, wants to be coached and looks you in the eye. Little habits like that, you appreciate as a coach.”


Twitter: @tkulfan

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