Wings Draft: Simon Edvinsson, the Next-Best Defenseman?

Sweden's forward Victor Olofsson (C) celebrates scoring his team's second goal with his team mates during the IIHF Men's Ice Hockey World Championships preliminary round group A match between Sweden and Slovakia, at the Olympic Sports Center in Riga, Latvia, on May 30, 2021. (Photo by Gints IVUSKANS / AFP) (Photo by GINTS IVUSKANS/AFP via Getty Images)
Sweden's forward Victor Olofsson (C) celebrates scoring his team's second goal with his team mates during the IIHF Men's Ice Hockey World Championships preliminary round group A match between Sweden and Slovakia, at the Olympic Sports Center in Riga, Latvia, on May 30, 2021. (Photo by Gints IVUSKANS / AFP) (Photo by GINTS IVUSKANS/AFP via Getty Images) /
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With Owen Power sitting atop most 2021 NHL Mock Drafts, it’s unlikely the Red Wings will get a shot at the talented defender out of U of M. However, Simon Edvinsson (Arguably the second best defenseman in the draft) could very well be available for Detroit at 6th overall.

Another Swede

Edvinsson bounced between a few different leagues and teams in the 2021 season, all located in Sweden. He began his year in the SHL’s U-20 league, scoring a goal and five assists in 14 games with Frolunda. Edvinsson made it into the SHL’s main league for 10 games, but received limited minutes and notched only an assist. After the stretch of play on Frolunda’s main team, he was loaned out to another Swedish League, HockeyAllsvenskan. In 20 games (14 regular season and 6 playoff games), Edvinsson tacked on another goal and seven assists to his overall 2021 season point total. His last pit-stop in his “tour of Sweden” was with the nation’s U-18 team in the World Championship. Although Sweden had a less-than-stellar performance in the tournament, Edvinsson illustrated his poise and potential as a top end defender, netting a goal and four assists through seven games in the process.

Boom… or Bust

Edvinsson is a tough player to truly analyze. Just watching highlights on YouTube, one starts to ask themselves, “Why isn’t this the projected number one overall pick?”. The problem with highlight packages is that they just portray the ceiling of a player – and Edvinsson has one of the highest in the entire draft class. To get a full scope of Edvinsson, one has to seek out tape analysis or shift-by-shift videos.

As stated before, the highlights for Edvinsson are top-end – even elite. Standing at 6-foot-5 and clocking in at 207 pounds, he’s an imposing force on the blue line, with deceptively great skating (Especially for his size). If the more simple defensive tricks don’t work, he’ll get physical to halt oncoming offensive charges.

Edvinsson possesses elite mobility for a defender of his size and some pretty tricky hands, too. Occasionally, he can put the two skills together and activate effectively on the offensive side of the ice.

Edvinsson will be drafted because of his defensive skillset and impressive measurables, but there is reason to believe that he could become a weapon on the offense. Although his shot is average/below average, Edvinsson’s other talents usually make this irrelevant. There were multiple times this year when Edvinsson would shock defenders with a surprisingly aggressive offensive push (Speed + top-end puck handling) and create a great scoring chance – typically finding a teammate with a high-danger pass.

Just looking at the highs, Edvinsson seems like an elite defender with two-way potential at the pro-level. However, the lows are pretty rough. To say some of his decisions as a defender are confusing is an understatement. There are times where the decisions are down right terrible; opting for a little dump into the neutral zone and immediately turning it over, or panicking with the puck and forcing a quick, useless pass. For every few fantastic shifts, it seemed like there were at least a couple times where Edvinsson looked like one of the worst defenders on the ice. To succeed at the NHL level, these passes need to be entirely eliminated from his repertoire. In fact, his passing needs improvement overall; while he can create some high-danger offensive chances with slick and accurate passes, he can create those same chances for opposing teams with a pass or turnover that just did not need to happen.

Now… Does He Fit In Detroit?

Edvinsson actually makes sense as a pick for Steve Yzerman. He’s a little similar to two of Yzerman’s previous defensive draft picks – Moritz Seider and Victor Hedman (NOT SAYING HE’S ANYWHERE NEAR THE PLAYERS IN TALENT). He’s a big, mobile defenseman that makes his money on the defensive side of the game (as of the draft) – but has the opportunity to become an elite offensive defenseman. Like the previous two, even with the skillset he possesses, he’s going to be a risk on draft day. An organization that picks up will be swinging for the fences, looking for a potential Norris Trophy Winner that could end up barely filling out an NHL roster.

Detroit certainly needs to take a big swing in this years draft – but maybe not with Edvinsson. Although he makes sense as an Yzerman pick, he doesn’t quite fit the rebuild. In Moritz Seider, the Red Wings already have a mobile, large, offensively gifted and left-handed defender. With such an important draft for the rebuild, should Yzerman really take another swing at the type of player he’s already hit a home run with?

Edvinsson makes a bit of sense as a Steve Yzerman draft pick. One can never have too many potential elite defenders in the prospect pool. But if Stevie decides to take a big swing on June 22nd, there’s a very good chance he’ll be looking for a boom or bust player on the offensive side of the ice (Specifically, down the middle of the ice – or maybe even in the crease).

All information related to Edvinsson’s goals and assists throughout 2021 were accessed through Elite Prospects

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