How Simon Edvinsson has benefitted from his time with Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings are keeping Simon Edvinsson on his toes, as he tries to extend his reach.

The team’s 6-foot-6 prize pick from the 2021 draft came off the ice Thursday morning at Little Caesars Arena anticipating playing in the evening against the St. Louis Blues. He made his NHL debut Saturday and played again Monday, but sat out the next game with a lower-body injury. In the brief glimpses they’ve had of him, he has impressed teammates.

“We knew about his skating,” defenseman Olli Määttä said, “but you can tell how smart he is, how he handles the puck. He’s going to be really good.”

The Wings called up Edvinsson, 20, under an emergency designation because they did not have six healthy defensemen. However many games Edvinsson ends up playing — he can appear in nine without burning a year of his entry-level contract — he is learning valuable lessons.

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“It helps a lot, getting some games here, with how fast it goes,” Edvinsson said. “How physical you need to be. I need to put on some strength in the summer, I think. It helps with a lot of things.”

Edvinsson got banged up when he was checked by Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas on Monday, but returned to finish the game because, “it was so much adrenaline,” Edvinsson said.

“I just have to build from this, play simple, play hard, and just build my game from that. Like, you have to make yourself time, make time for your teammates. I’m a ‘D’ so that’s what I’m supposed to do, to give the puck to the forwards to give them time to do what they do best. That’s what I’m going for.”

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Playing Thursday would give his parents and brother another chance to see Edvinsson play in person, before they fly back to their native Sweden.

Edvinsson has spent most of his first season in North America with the Grand Rapids Griffins, posting five goals and 22 assists in 51 games. The Griffins are not on pace to make the AHL playoffs, but playing there affords Edvinsson a large role as a go-to guy. He has been on the third pairing in Detroit — a valuable learning experience — which means working with defense coach Bob Boughner, a former NHL defenseman.

“The whole process, being able to work with our staff here, being with Bob, development with our coaches,” head coach Derek Lalonde said. “Just being around our process, our coaches. Both are valuable, playing a ton down there versus when he plays. It’s something we’ll evaluate down the stretch.”

However many games Edvinsson plays this season with the Wings, he’ll leave a favorable impression for the future.

“He’s a very talented guy,” goaltender Magnus Hellberg said. “I think he has some great hockey IQ. I think he’s just going to be better and better, so hopefully he can stay injury free and keep building his game. I really like what I see from him, for sure.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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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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