Red Wings’ 2021 first-round pick Edvinsson excited about making debut

Detroit News

Detroit — Red Wings fans are going to get a chance to see defenseman Simon Edvinsson.

Edvinsson, the Red Wings’ 2021 first-round draft pick (sixth overall), was recalled Friday, along with forward Austin Czarnik from minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids under emergency conditions.

The Wings are without defensemen Ben Chiarot (upper-body injury) and Gustav Lindstrom (didn’t finish Friday’s practice) and forward Robby Fabbri (lower-body).

Filip Zadina practiced Friday, after taking the brunt of a physical collision Thursday, and will be able to play.

But, for a lot of Wings fans, getting an opportunity to see Edvinsson dress for his first NHL game will be what matters most.

For Edvinsson, also, it’ll be a thrill.

“I’m kind of nervous,” Edvinsson said after Friday’s practice. “I was nervous (Thursday night) when I was driving up here. I’m looking forward to it.”

Edvinsson, 20, had a promising rookie season with the Griffins. The 6-foot-6, 209-pound mobile defenseman leads all Griffins defensemen with 27 points (five goals, 22 assists) and 50 penalty minutes in 51 games. Edvinsson has four multi-point games, including a career-high three assists, four points and a plus-five rating in a game on Feb. 15 against Rockford.

The reports from Grand Rapids’ coaching staff and from Wings management have all been favorable, which makes coach Derek Lalonde interested to see how far Edvinsson has developed from the exhibition season.

“To see where he’s at,” Lalonde said, of what he’s most intrigued about. “It’s one thing to watch him down there and one thing to listen to our management team. It looks like he’ll see real action, which is exciting.”

Edvinsson was one of the last cuts made by the Wings coming out of the exhibition season. Though the physical attributes were there, the inconsistency and adjustment to North American pro hockey was going to be difficult for such an inexperienced player.

Even Edvinsson admits now that it was the right call.

“I felt like I wasn’t quite ready to be starting up here,” Edvinsson said. “I had a lot of things to improve on and I feel like Grand Rapids has been a good place to improve on that stuff, and it’s been good.”

The consistency, Lalonde said, has been the largest positive step forward.

“You guys saw in camp, some games, he looked NHL-ready and other games, it looked like he’s got a ways to go,” Lalonde said. “It’s part of the process. It sounds like he’s been a little more consistent of late, which is very natural for young players, and it’s a lot harder for young defensemen. He’s progressing accordingly, and these types of opportunities for him are extremely valuable for his overall development.”

Lalonde feels the speed and pace of the NHL, along with acclimating to the Wings’ systems, will be Edvinsson’s key test.

“There’s a learning curve that he’s going to go through, and what it takes,” Lalonde said. “It’s a different league. It’s probably not as far as you’d think, some nights, but other nights, it is.”

“I’d just like to see him manage his game. He went through a learning curve in GR trying to do that and he had to learn from it. I’m more excited about him choosing his spots (leading the offensive rush) correctly like we ask all of our players. Sometimes, young players want to chase it,

“Personally, I’m excited (about) young players getting some opportunities. It’s part of the process. I know some other coaches aren’t as patient, I would say, but I love it. I’m excited to see him (play).”

Edvinsson got the news about joining the Wings after the Griffins’ 4-3 victory Thursday over Cleveland. This late in the season, and with the Griffins clawing to make the playoffs, Edvinsson wasn’t sure if he was going to get a taste of the NHL this season.

“I was just focusing on making the playoffs,” Edvinsson said. “To get called up is just awesome.

“(The Wings’ coaches said) to play my game. I was called up for a reason, to play my game as I have been doing down there for the last couple of games.”

Getting comfortable with the smaller North American ice surface, along with adjusting to the physical pro style, have been Edvinsson’s biggest obstacles to overcome.

“Coming from Sweden, it’s a lot smaller ice, and everyone is on top of you all the time,” Edvinsson said. “One mistake, and it’s in your net.”

Lalonde feels it energized the entire roster when a rookie is making his NHL debut.

Defenseman Moritz Seider, who went through the process last season on his way to an NHL rookie of the year award, believes Edvinsson is well-suited to handle the excitement.

“He’s real calm under pressure,” Seider said. “He’ll have the puck on his stick a lot (Saturday) and we’ll be really excited to have him. He brings a lot of offensive energy to the blue line and that’s definitely something we need.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

Avalanche at Red Wings

▶ Faceoff: 1 p.m. Saturday, Little Caesars Arena.

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▶ Outlook: The defending Stanley Cup-champion Avalanche (39-22-6) appear to be rounding into shape with the playoffs nearing…Colorado has won four consecutive games and is 6-3-1 in its last 10 games…C Nathan MacKinnon (85 points), RW Mikko Rantanen (45 goals) and D Cale Makar (42 assists) lead a championship-caliber roster.

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