Elmer Söderblom has made big statements in first few games of 2022-23

Winging It In Motown

It’s about time. Hockey season is finally here, and unfortunately for fans of the Detroit Red Wings, they’ve had to wait as long as anyone for their team’s season to get underway. After a preseason full of eventful storylines that developed, we get to watch Red Wings hockey that means something, and the hope is that they will be contending for a playoff spot or close to it.

When talking about a preseason full of storylines, one of the biggest (literally and figuratively) was Elmer Söderblom, the 6-foot-8 winger from Göteborg, Sweden. The 21-year-old wasn’t guaranteed a spot on the opening night roster. Still, after some impressive performances in preseason games, head coach Derek LaLonde, general manager Steve Yzerman, and their staff decided to give him a shot. He is taking advantage of it during the team’s excellent 3-1-2 start.

Söderblom is playing on a line with Michael Rasmussen, who stands at 6-foot-6, and fellow Swede Oskar Sundqvist, who stands at 6-foot-3, creating the biggest line the NHL has ever seen.

Their line is not only the largest in NHL history but also producing results, which is what matters. Söderblom is a critical factor in the strong production as well. Despite being a rookie and ultimately still adjusting to the NHL, it doesn’t appear he is at first glance. He is skating with as much pace as one might expect someone his size to skate, but he’s also fighting off defenders and protecting the puck. He’s even displaying some skill now that he’s continuing to find his footing.

Despite having only scored two goals in six games, his analytics look quite strong. At 5v5, he sits fifth on the Red Wings in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) at 55. It is interesting to note that he is one of the worst on the team in actual goals for percentage (GF%), but whether that is actually the player in question’s fault or the fault of bad goaltending or team defense leads me to question the validity of the stat in many cases.

From the eye test, Söderblom is doing what he does best: controlling the puck and creating chances for himself and his teammates using his long reach and smooth skating ability. The analytics suggest (for the most part) that he has been one of the team’s best players. It’s is very early into the new NHL season, but any good trend should be looked at as a strong foundation by Red Wings fans and the coaching staff led by LaLonde. If the big Swede can keep this up, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with, even if it takes some time.

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