Red Wings Sign Axel Sandin-Pellikka to 3-Year ELC

The Hockey Writers

One week after winning the SHL Championship with Skellefteå AIK (April 29, 2024), Detroit Red Wings prospect Axel Sandin Pellikka signed his three-year, entry-level contract (ELC) with Detroit. Drafted 17th overall in the 2023 NHL Draft, the right-handed defenseman has emerged as one of the top blueliners in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). The 19-year-old had 10 goals and 18 points in 39 games with Skellefteå AIK and was awarded the Börje Salming Trophy as the best Swedish-born defenseman in the SHL. He also won a silver medal with Sweden at the 2024 World Junior Championship and was named the tournament’s best defenseman, recording six points in seven games. 

But what does this all mean? Expectations for his arrival in the Motor City do need to be tempered, as Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman alluded to during his end-of-season press conference. The plan right now is for him to spend another year in Sweden. “I expect him to stay,” Yzerman said on April 19th. “We haven’t actually had a conversation with him, but I expect him to remain in Sweden for another season, but we literally haven’t sat down and had a phone call with him and (said), ‘Hey Axel, what would you like to do?’ But my impression, my understanding right now is that he’ll remain there for another year, and if we want to do that, we’re more than happy with it.”

Axel Sandin Pellikka Team Sweden
Axel Sandin Pellikka, Team Sweden (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

This deal was all but a formality, but interesting nevertheless. The shifty defender appears to be big part of the Red Wings future, and I would have to predict that we see him with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL) for a spell after the 2024-25 season but at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pushing for a roster spot next offseason.

RELATED: When Will the Red Wings’ Top Prospects Arrive in the NHL?

Sandin-Pellikka signing his ELC may have come as a surprise when you consider he plans to stay in Sweden for another year but at his age (19), Detroit would be able to slide this deal. That means that if he doesn’t play 10 NHL games next year, his first year of the deal (ELC) moves to the following season. This seems to be the most likely scenario but gives him – as well the Red Wings – the option to move to North America sooner if he chooses to go that route. Make no mistake though, this is encouraging news for Detroit as they seemed to move one step closer to seeing one of their top prospects don the Winged Wheel.

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