Big & Tall: Edvinsson, Söderblom weighed by Detroit Red Wings ahead of 23-man roster

Detroit Free Press

Derek Lalonde laughed when asked if he knew where he would have Simon Edvinsson playing when the Detroit Red Wings begin their season.

It will, ultimately, be up to general manager Steve Yzerman, the man responsible for finalizing the 23-man roster due Monday. Edvinsson, Elmer Söderblom and Joe Veleno lead the brigade of bright young Wings trying to stick with stalls at Little Caesars Arena.

“It’s a tough balance of what kind of minutes and touches they would get in Grand Rapids versus what it would look like here in Detroit,” Lalonde said. “That’s always a tough balance and something we’ll have to weigh.”

More:Where Derek Lalonde is at in deciding Detroit Red Wings’ roster battles

Edvinsson, a talented defenseman; Söderblom, a 6-foot-8 forward with nimble hands; and Veleno, a budding two-way center, have used the preseason to showcase themselves and argue for a spot in Detroit. With forwards Andrew Copp and Oskar Sundqvist and defenseman Robert Hagg cleared or close to being cleared for the Oct. 14 opener, that creates a numbers crunch, and Edvinsson, Söderblom and Veleno are vulnerable because they don’t need to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. But if the decision-makers deem they make the Wings better, then it becomes a tougher decision.

Take Söderblom: He scored his second preseason goal Friday when he maneuvered the puck to the net through traffic, looking deft despite towering over everyone on the ice.

“It is impressive that he has hands in those tight-type areas,” Lalonde said. “What’s more exciting is that goal came off a forecheck 25-30 seconds earlier, that allowed him to be in that position.

“You can see through camp, his puck play has improved.”

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

Söderblom is still learning how to protect the puck better, but for a guy getting his first taste of the smaller North American ice sheet, he has drawn attention for the right reasons and shown he is a quick learner.

“Everything is faster,” Söderblom said. “I think every player is smart as well, so you have to be fast in your head, make fast decisions. I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m just going to keep working on playing with my size and use it to my advantage. There are not a lot of forwards as big as I am, so I need to really, really play with the size that I’ve got and keep working hard and pay attention to small details, as well, listen to all the guys and take in as much as I can and be ready to play at the NHL level.”

Söderblom’s immediate future hinges on where Yzerman sees the best opportunity for development. Söderblom, part of Yzerman’s first draft as Wings GM in 2019, has the body to excel as a net-front presence — especially on power plays, but the Wings already have Michael Rasmussen and Adam Erne in those roles. So then the decision, or balance, becomes a matter of weighing where Söderblom is better off starting the season.

“We foresee him being a net-front power play guy when he is ready to be an everyday NHL guy,” Lalonde said. “That balance of will he get that here, or will he get that likely on a first unit in GR. That balance of what his role would be.”

The Wings want their prospects playing, not sitting in Detroit as reserves. All signs certainly have pointed to Edvinsson getting looks as a third-pairing guy as he appeared in five preseason games (one assist, minus-2 rating), but there are factors to consider. Both Hagg and Jordan Oesterle are defensive defensemen with NHL experience, and they play the type of low-risk game the Wings have emphasized during the preseason.

Another factor to consider is that Edvinsson is 19. Moritz Seider, who like Edvinsson was a No. 6 overall draft pick, spent his first year in the organization playing in Grand Rapids. That could be an ideal transition for Edvinsson, too, as the Wings weigh their roster decisions.

“We’ve been open-minded and we’ve liked a lot of what we’ve seen,” Lalonde said. “But I don’t have a vision of what he would look like if he was on our opening night roster right now.”

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