Detroit Has Another Young Blueline Star Emerging
The Detroit Red Wings have a young defender who has exceeded expectations this season, and I’m not talking about Moritz Seider – although he certainly qualifies for the honor himself.
No, I’m talking about Simon Edvinsson, the sixth overall pick in draft 2021 and one of the best stories of the young SHL season in Sweden. Edvinsson plays for the first Frolunda squad and has nine points in 15 games. It’s an impressive performance, compounded by the fact that the 18-year-old is playing in his first full SHL season after splitting between the top division, the second-rate Allsvenskan and the Swedish junior round last year.
While Edvinsson was already on the draft radar, his loan from Frolunda to Vasteras in the Allsvenskan last year allowed the youngster more minutes and a greater chance of offensive contributions. As Frolunda GM Fredrik Sjostrom told me in advance of the design, this was a development step that the team was happy with.
“We spoke to him regularly and followed all of his games,” said Sjostrom. “You give him feedback here and there, but not too much – you want him to have fun and play bigger minutes. We watched closely and were very happy with his performance.”
What followed was an up and down from Sweden at the U18 World Cup, where the Tre Kronor were stomped twice by Canada (at 20-2 combined) but ended in a bronze medal after tearing apart their rival Finland 8- 0. I know some followers didn’t like Edvinsson’s performance, but personally, I saw one of the few kids on the team who looked like he’d care if the team played badly, and that’s a check mark in my book.
Nonetheless, a player who became known as a possible runner-up in the overall standings behind University of Michigan defender Owen Power slipped to sixth overall, where Steve Yzerman’s much-acclaimed scouting team picked up what was already a bargain in Detroit seems to be.
And here’s the thing about the top of the draft: there can always be multiple avenues, and you can’t necessarily blame teams for going in one direction. The Seattle Kraken had the second pick overall, which also happened to be the expansion team’s first pick ever. Seattle went with Matty Beniers, a University of Michigan center, and it was an easy choice: GM Ron Francis noticed how hard it is to acquire high-end centers because teams rarely trade or allow them to go on free agencies to arrive. So you have to design them. And Beniers has an excellent engine to go with a two-way game that has matured over its years.
Before the draft, I thought Seattle’s choice was down to Beniers and Edvinsson, because big, mobile defenders aren’t that easy to come by either – and they chose the center. No problem with that.
But how excited are you, as a Detroit fan, to see Edvinsson already in one of the best leagues in the world? Edvinsson will undoubtedly play a huge role for Sweden at the Junior World Championships in Alberta this winter and his promising sides already seem to be coming to the fore. This is what a scout told me last year:
“The sky’s the limit for this guy when he gets stronger,” he said. “He has a puck game, he skates, he gets upset sometimes, which is good to see. He has a little courage. He will be a good one.”
Of course, Frolunda hopes to get as many years out of Edvinsson as possible, but Sjostrom has been pragmatic knowing the NHL will call sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Frolunda fans can watch the 6-foot-5, 207-pounder help their team battle for another title this year, and Detroit believers can dream of a time in the not-too-distant future when an Edvinsson-Seider pairing dominates their blueline.