Why Simon Edvinsson’s NHL debut has Detroit Red Wings so excited

Detroit Free Press

The excitement at Friday’s Detroit Red Wings practice had a big focal point.

It was Simon Edvinsson, the 6-foot-6, 209-pound defenseman drafted No. 6 overall in 2021, who was officially called up that morning.

“It’s one thing to watch him down there, it’s one thing to listen to our management team,” Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “It looks like he’ll get real action.”

The action comes Saturday, when the Wings (30-28-9) host defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. It’s the perfect setting for a debut, considering Edvinsson grew up in his native Sweden watching the old Wings-Avs rivalry, when he was enamored of Nicklas Lidstrom and Peter Forsberg.

Edvinsson, 20, has spent his first season in North America with the Grand Rapids Griffins, posting five goals and 22 assists in 51 games.

“The more games that have gone, the more physical I play, the better I play in the game overall,” Edvinsson said. “That’s a big thing for me.”

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Edvinsson said he hopes his parents and brother can make it from Sweden in time for the 1 p.m. game. He told them as soon as he found out, which was courtesy of fellow emergency call-up Austin Czarnik, who told him after Thursday’s game in Cleveland, just before Griffins coach Ben Simon delivered the news.

“I was nervous yesterday when I was driving up here,” Edvinsson said. “But they are calling me up for a reason, they said, and I just have to play my game.”

Lalonde didn’t sound like Gustav Lindstrom would be able to play for undisclosed reasons. He practiced Thursday but did not finish Friday’s practice. Ben Chiarot already is week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Moritz Seider, only in his second NHL season, is looking forward to seeing Edvinsson play.

“I’m really excited,” Seider said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things, that he has played really well lately and we are very excited to have him here. He’s really calm under pressure. He will have the puck on his tape a lot and we are really excited to have him. I think he will bring a lot of offensive energy to our blue line and that’s definitely something we need.

“We are here to pump his tires and get him confidence.”

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Seider, the No. 6 overall pick in 2019, said the year he spent acclimating in the AHL was “great. It was exactly what I needed at the time. Made me a little rougher, probably, got me used to traveling a lot, and overall it was a really good decision.”

Much as young players want to make the NHL roster, Edvinsson saw why he needed to go to the AHL.

“I feel like I wasn’t quite ready to start up here,” Edvinsson said. “I had a lot of things to improve on and I feel Grand Rapids has been a good place to improve. I’ve been feeling good.

“I was just focused on Grand Rapids, to make the playoffs there. To get the callup was just awesome.”

While reports on 2019 second-round pick Albert Johansson (five goals, 15 points, minus-7 in 53 games) have been more positive overall than on Edvinsson, Johansson is week-to-week, Lalonde said, with an undisclosed injury. That, then, led to Edvinsson’s opportunity.

“He’s progressing accordingly and these types of opportunities are extremely valuable for him, I think, for his overall development,” Lalonde said. “I don’t know what to expect. I’m personally extremely excited. I think young players getting opportunity is part of the process. Some other coaches are a little more not as patient with young players. I love it, so I’m excited to see him.”

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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