The Detroit Red Wings had their first look at some of their new players and hopeful prospects.
The younger set on display Wednesday in an exhibition match against the Chicago Blackhawks included Simon Edvinsson and Elmer Soderblom; the new-look veterans included David Perron and Ben Chiarot.
The Wings got a pair of goals from Adam Erne but fell, 4-2, giving up an empty-net goal in the final minute.
“I liked our push in the third,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “I thought we did some good things in the third. For the most part, I thought we did some pretty good things. I’m pretty happy overall.”
It was the second preseason game for the Wings and first for Alex Nedeljkovic, who gave up two goals on the first three shots against a Blackhawks group very light on NHLers. But that’s what these eight games are for: Preparing for the Oct. 14 opener.
Soderblom v. Soderblom
It’s been a good start to the preseason for Soderblom. He scored Tuesday, and earned an assist less than two minutes into his second game. Soderblom was battling down low when he got his stick on the puck and angled the puck on net. Chicago goalie Arvid Soderblom — Elmer’s older brother — made the save, but Erne swooped in and connected on the rebound. Soderblom got top-six minutes and was out on the power play, a clear sign the Wings are giving the 6-foot-8 draft pick from 2019 every opportunity to earn a spot.
“Good game [Tuesday], he got on the scoresheet, but I liked him tonight, around the puck more, a little more assertive,” Lalonde said. “You could see some confidence in his game. Good step for him. That’s what you ask young guys to do, improve from last game to this game.”
Edvinsson, drafted No. 6 overall last year, played 21:11, had two shots on net and took two penalties. “He had a really good first period,” Lalonde said. “We wanted to give him minutes. His game tired a little bit in the second and third, but he improved from his Red-White game. I saw some things tonight that were pretty darn good. His next step would be consistent. You can see where his ceiling is and it’s pretty exciting.”
Erne scored again a minute into the second period, off a feed from Pius Suter, who centered Erne and Soderblom. Erne is entering the last year of a two-year, $4.2 million contract; although he’s signed, he is fighting for a job. Erne had just six goals last season, after scoring 11 in 2021. He’s vulnerable to competition from, among others, Soderblom. Erne may be helped by the fact Oskar Sundqvist, a bottom-six grinder type, has yet to practice because of an undisclosed injury.
“I just want to establish a role on this team,” Erne said. “There’s a lot of spots to be fought for and I’m just trying to make a good first impression. Just playing with confidence, playing with the puck on my stick, and going to the dirty areas and putting myself in a position to score.”
As planned, the Wings changed goaltenders during a timeout near the midpoint of the game. Nedeljkovic, who is trying to establish he should be No. 1, allowed two goals on 10 shots, in 31:56 minutes. He was replaced by Jussi Olkinuora, who is earmarked for the Grand Rapids Griffins. Ville Husso, acquired via trade during the offseason, is projected to get his first start of the preseason Friday when the Wings host the Washington Capitals. Olkinuora gave up a goal shortly after entering the game, when Jujhar Khaira converted on a power play while Edvinsson served time for delay of game.
Alec Regula earned an assist; the name should ring a bell because he’s the son of former Wings team dentist Dr. Chet Regula and was drafted by the Wings in 2018. General manager Steve Yzerman traded Regula to the Blackhawks in October 2019 for Brendan Perlini.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her latest book, On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.