Playing in Grand Rapids proved to be beneficial for Red Wings’ Edvinsson

Detroit News

Detroit — Watching defenseman Simon Edvinsson now, you see why the Red Wings did what they did at the beginning of the season.

Edvinsson showed flashes during the exhibition season of being ready for the NHL, of handling a third-pair role and learning the NHL in a difficult way.

But the Wings have always preached patience when it comes to their top prospects. And though Edvinsson showed flashes of being ready, he showed more flashes of inconsistency that made the move to minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids understandable.

Watching Edvinsson in his first six NHL games, you notice a more polished and assured 20-year-old.

“He played in every situation in Grand Rapids, which is why it was such a positive for him to get those games and minutes down there,” coach Derek Lalonde said.

Edvinsson wasn’t sure what to expect upon arriving to North America, but now admits the time in the American League was valuable.

It gave Edvinsson an opportunity to adjust to life in North America, the smaller rink, and pro hockey here.

“I don’t rush too much into the situation now” said Edvinsson, who feels he is using his physicality more than before. ” I feel more comfortable in the game, and that’s helped me a lot with the puck and without the puck.”

Bob Boughner, the Wings assistant coach in charge of the defense, also sees a different player from the training camp Simon Edvinsson.

Bougher, like everyone else around the organization, credits the time in the AHL for grooming Edvinsson.

“What we saw the first couple of games he’s played here after his call-up, he’s a little bit of a different player than we saw at training camp or preseason,” Boughner said. “His game is more assertive, and he’s bringing that physicality to his game. He’s making smarter, easier decisions, quicker decisions with the puck. That comes from just getting down there (the AHL) and playing games and learning the North American game.”

Returning home

Bougher has enjoyed spending his first season with the Wings for a variety of reasons.

Boughner was the Wings’ 1989 second-round draft pick who played 630 NHL games but all elsewhere, never getting that opportunity in Detroit.

When Boughner was not retained as the San Jose Sharks head coach last summer, and Lalonde and the Wings called, Boughner loved the chance to come back.

“This summer, sitting down and trying to figure out my next step, obviously, this was a team that was right up there,” Boughner said. “I’ve got a ton of family and friends over in Windsor on the other side (of the border). It’s a special place in my heart.

“Playing in the organization and the farm system with Adirondack Red Wings, I see a lot of the guys that are working in the alumni that are hanging around here every day, guys that I played with in the minors. I’m very familiar with the staff and the people that run the organization. It was just an easy step for me and it’s great living here. I can go back (to Windsor) on my off days. I get to spend a lot of time there, so that’s nice.”

McCrimmon an O’Ree finalist

Jason McCrimmon, of Detroit, is among the finalists for the NHL’s 2023 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.

The award is given to an individual who, through hockey, has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society.

McCrimmon, who is the Red Wings’ youth ambassador, is the president and founder of Detroit Ice Dreams Youth Hockey Association, a nonprofit youth hockey organization that minimizes the barriers that prevent underrepresented communities from access to hockey. In addition to on-ice programming, McCrimmon gives back through turkey giveaways, care packages for the homeless, adopt-a-family for Christmas, and provides backpacks filled with school supplies to children in need.

McCrimmon also is the associate head coach, general manager and owner of the USPHL’s Motor City Gamblers Junior A team.

The two winners will be determined by a judging panel with weighted votes from Willie O’Ree, the NHL and for the award in Canada, representatives from Hyundai Canada. A public fan vote will also help determine both winners. Fans 13 and older can start voting for the winners now until April 16 at NHL.com/OReeAward.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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