How Gustav Lindstrom & Simon Edvinsson fit into Detroit Red Wings’ plans

Detroit Free Press

A week out from their opener, the Detroit Red Wings are figuring out who their third defense pairing will be.

The top four is set, with newcomers Ben Chiarot and Olli Mäattä pairing with Moritz Seider and Filip Hronek, respectively. The big question on the last pairing is whether 2021 first-round pick Simon Edvinsson will make the team. The Wings wrap up their preseason with a pair of games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, at home Friday and on the road Saturday. Edvinsson is expected to play Friday, and could play both games.

“We’re just getting him minutes and time,” coach Derek Lalonde said Thursday. “He’s been in our top four, he’s been in that 5-6 role. Just want to get him minutes. He’s been on the penalty kill, he’s been on the power play.

“I think he’s progressed on both. Penalty kill, he’s shown a really long stick. He’s shown an ability to be a little harder than I may have anticipated. He’s shown good anticipation on it. Power play, same thing — I just think it’s typical growth for him. Some games, you can see him good in all areas, and then there’s other games, you can see the areas he needs to develop in. I’m excited about both of them for him.”

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Teams have to submit 23-man rosters by 5 p.m. Monday. Lalonde said Andrew Copp (abdominal surgery) will be ready for the opener and sounded optimistic Oskar Sundqvist (undisclosed) could be, too, even though he has yet to practice. If so, that adds two forwards to the list.

In the majority of his four appearances, Edvinsson has been paired with Gustav Lindstrom. The 23-year-old has 92 NHL games to his credit over parts of three seasons — including 63 with the Wings last season — and is hoping a summer of working on his strength and skating will pay off with greater consistency.

“I hope to take some more steps this year, be better over 82 games,” he said.

Lindstrom and Edvinsson both came out of Frölunda’s program, which is why they look at times, “like we think the same way,” Lindstrom said. The ice surface is bigger in Sweden compared to North America, and sometimes that leads to having to make tough decisions.

“You want to play with possession in Sweden,” Lindstrom said. “If you don’t have anything when you skate up with the puck, you’d rather bring it back home again instead of just chip it out. For me, that was a big thing. It’s probably the same thing for him. When you’re coming up with the puck and you’re under pressure, you’d rather take it back than chip it out, and then you get stuck in the D-zone. That’s one thing I learned from Day 1 here, it’s better just to chip it out.”

Lalonde said that is not necessarily the case. “We want puck possession. We have a plan with the puck, and I don’t mind certain players erring on possession. Of course we want to take risk out of our game, make the play that’s given. But for him, it’s not so much things with the puck, I think it’s him without the puck.”

What the Wings are looking for from Lindstrom is that he be harder to play against. “He gets a little, I’m not going to say passive in his game, but he’ll play a contained-type game, which is fine,” Lalonde said. “And I like the way he skates. He breaks pucks out, he helps us in transition.

“We were just spending way too much time in our zone last year. We need everyone, not only Goose, everyone within our D-zone to help us out in getting those stops.”

Ultimately whether Edvinsson is in the lineup next week will come down to whether general manager Steve Yzerman judges it best for Edvinsson to get a crash course with the Wings, or start the season developing with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

“We’ve been talking and evaluating it every day,” Lalonde said. “Seven, eight years ago, it’s a no-brainer, he starts in the AHL. In this day and age, the cap era, there is that develop on the fly, which is reality. There is that balance of what his touches and minutes would look like in the AHL versus what they would look like in the NHL.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. 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.

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