Detroit — The Red Wings have officially added an intriguing prospect to their depth chart.
Forward Elmer Soderblom signed a three-year entry-level contract Thursday, and will challenge for an NHL job during the start of September’s training camp.
Wings fans aren’t going to miss Soderblom, 20, on the ice.
Officially listed at 6-foot-8, 249 pounds, Soderblom has developed nicely since the Wings drafted him in 2019 (sixth round, 159th overall). Soderblom, playing for Frolunda HC in Sweden, led the powerful team with 21 goals, while adding 12 assists, for 33 points (third) in 52 games. Soderblom led Frolunda with seven power-play goals and had a team-leading 132 shots.
In the playoffs, Soderblom had six points (three goals, three assists) in nine games as Frolunda reached the league semifinals.
“Based on what he’s done the last couple of years, his progress, we’re pretty excited,” Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said in May, during his season-ending press conference. “He’s very athletic in his jumping ability, his coordination. That bodes well for the future. It seems the big guys, it takes them a little bit longer to grow into their bodies, and he looks to be doing that.”
The Wings’ talent evaluators were pleased and impressed with what they saw of Soderblom three years ago during a development camp.
“We do some fitness tests, (and) it was pretty exciting to see where he was at,” Yzerman said. “It wasn’t like, ‘When this guy gets stronger, or when this guy gets powerful,’ he’s already powerful and he’s already explosive. Can you imagine, as he continues to work at it, where the potential is?
“I don’t want to over-hype him and I’m not trying to over-hype him, but we’re cautiously optimistic that he’ll be a real good NHLer.”
The Wings have gotten contributions from recent first-round picks such as Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, but have yet to see middle-round draft picks crack the lineup. Soderblom would be a notable — and important — addition.
“He’s a pleasant surprise, but we need some surprises within our drafts,” Yzerman said. “We can’t just expect to be picking in the top 10 every year and get a good player. It’s going to take a long time to build a team that way. We need some of these players that are second- through seventh-rounders to make it. It looks like he’s got a good opportunity.”