Red Wings Prospect Rankings: #1 Simon Edvinsson

The Hockey Writers

Simon Edvinsson is the best prospect in the Detroit Red Wings’ system, and he has been ever since Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond made their NHL debuts in the 2021-22 season. The first thing that stands out about him is his size, but Edvinsson brings a whole lot more to the table than his 6-foot-6 frame. 

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Simon Edvinsson, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Edvinsson was drafted sixth overall by the Red Wings in the 2021 Draft, and has since shown great progress in professional hockey with back-to-back great seasons in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and the American Hockey League (AHL). After undergoing an offseason surgery on his shoulder, he may not have a spot in Detroit’s lineup when the regular season begins as he gets back up to speed, but he will be an important defender for the Red Wings in the near future.

Scouting Report

Ever since his draft year, one thing has been clear about Edvinsson and that is that his potential is through the roof. He is a 6-foot-6 defenseman who has excellent hands and skating for someone of his size. Being an NHL-caliber skater at that height is a miracle with how quick and agile players need to be in today’s NHL, and that means that the potential he has to become an excellent defensive player is incredibly high.  

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It’s common to hear people say “he does ___ really well for someone so big” and that’s because most players that big are just enforcers who excel at playing a physical game that doesn’t require too much skill or mobility. Edvinsson is an excellent puck carrier through transition, and has created more chances recently via stretch passes through the neutral zone. 

Edvinsson’s defensive game is still developing, but he is really good at using his large frame and his massive reach to his advantage while defending. He has a great motor and isn’t scared to get physical either when clearing out traffic at the net-front or when he needs to step up and take out an attacker off the rush. Edvinsson could certainly get better at anticipating plays but he reacts quickly enough and his frame coupled with surprising mobility allows him to recover and make good plays a lot of the time.

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I think the biggest area for growth with Edvinsson is his pace as he could be seen rushing plays and making mistakes under pressure in the AHL last year. This can partly be attributed to him getting his first full-time taste of the narrower rinks used in North American pro hockey, but he will need to continue to adapt as he works toward a full-time NHL spot. Edvinsson looked especially rushed in preseason action last year but he did look a lot more confident and comfortable during his nine-game stint at the end of the season.

NHL Comparable

There aren’t really any comparable players for a 6-foot-6 defenseman who skates very well (elite for his size, above average by league standards), and who competes this hard unless you go for someone like Victor Hedman, though I don’t think that’s a particularly apt comparison either. Firstly, Hedman has better hockey sense and is a far superior defensive player to Edvinsson. Secondly, Edvinsson is still a project prospect who is very unlikely to reach the level of Hedman as a perennial Norris Trophy candidate, a very exclusive club.

Perhaps a “Hedman-lite” comparison is more accurate, with the hockey sense and offensive production likely being the factors holding Edvinsson back from becoming a superstar two-way defender in the NHL like Hedman has been. You could also make the argument that Detroit has a decent comparable in their lineup already in Seider who is a few inches shorter and has shown more hockey IQ offensively than Edvinsson, but who profiles similarly aside from that.

However you slice it Edvinsson is an incredibly unique prospect who doesn’t look a whole lot like many successful NHLers. While that could be cause for concern in some cases, the biggest limiting factor for large players is their skating and Edvinsson has got that covered so I see his uniqueness as a sign of a fun new player type that we may see more of eventually.

Draft Year

Edvinsson was seen as a project in his draft year, and while many prospects with that label can expect to be drafted later in the first round or even to slide into one of the middle rounds, Edvinsson’s physical tools (size and skating) were so enticing that he was seen by most as a lock to be a top-10 pick in the 2021 Draft. He was already seen as a great skater for his size (although he measured at just 6-foot-4 to start the year), but his offensive production wasn’t particularly exciting.

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He scored just six points in 14 games in the J20 Nationell (Sweden’s top junior league), though he did play 24 pro games split between the SHL and Allsvenskan where he totalled six points. Edvinsson’s defensive game was translating surprisingly well for such a gangly teenager, but his offensive game really sparked in his draft+1 year where he scored 19 points in 44 SHL games en-route to being named Sweden’s top junior player of the year.

It didn’t take long for the Red Wings to bring him in after that and he spent the 2022-23 season in North America for the first time, mostly with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL. Edvinsson played a big role for a really weak Griffins team last year, scoring 27 points along the way, making him the third highest scoring U20 defender in the league. 

What’s Next for Edvinsson?

Detroit’s logjam on the left side of defense has been a point of contention for over a year now and the Red Wings’ front office seems determined to make it more and more difficult for prospects like Edvinsson and William Wallinder to crack the NHL roster with free agency additions like Ben Chiarot and Shayne Gostisbehere holding those spots. That’s a long way of saying that I expect Edvinsson to start the year in the AHL once again.

Simon Edvinsson Grand Rapids Griffins
Simon Edvinsson, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Obviously we have the fact that Edvinsson is returning from offseason shoulder surgery so he may need a bit more time to be up to game speed, but there are other positives to come from this in my mind. Starting in the AHL will mean that Edvinsson will get a whole lot more minutes right off the bat, especially on special teams. I expect someone of his age to benefit more from a ton of reps in a big role than to minimal icetime on the third pairing.

When Could Edvinsson be in Detroit?

I fully expect Edvinsson to be the first callup at LD should one or more defensemen go down with injuries or illnesses, though I think it would take a bit longer for him to crack the lineup on merit if health isn’t a factor, simply because the team’s depth is improved. Last year Edvinsson only had to beat out Jordan Oesterle and this year he will need to surpass at least one of Olli Määttä, Chiarot, or Gostisbehere if he wants a full-time role

He should be in the mix as an everyday NHLer by the end of this season, but I think the competition is more fierce than ever for him. Edvinsson is most likely to be given a long-term role at the start of the 2024-25 season where he could eventually take over as the leader of the team’s second pairing if all goes well. 

Bottom Line

There is still a lot of room for Edvinsson to grow both offensively and defensively going forward, but he has taken significant steps since being drafted. If he doesn’t have a whole lot more to go, I still think he will be a good second pairing defender, maybe even a number three guy on a great team. 

If he continues to develop at the same rate for another year or two, then I think Edvinsson could become a legit top-pairing defender, capable of giving Detroit either a massive dynamic duo on the top pair with Seider or giving them two high-end defenders capable of eating massive minutes and carrying a defensive pairing.

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