Detroit Red Wings: Why an AHL stint may be best for Elmer Soderblom

(Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images) /

Detroit Red Wings rookie forward Elmer Soderblom burst onto the scene to begin the season quickly making an impact offensively and showcasing his enormous size.

The Detroit Red Wings drafted the 6-foot-8 Soderblom with the 159th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL Entry Level Draft. It quickly felt like another one of those Red Wings draft bargains with the massive framed, highly-skilled forward scoring in his NHL debut in Detroit’s season opener against Montreal.

Soderblom is billed as a highly-skilled forward that is not afraid to take the puck to the net. The 21-year-old scored a highlight-reel goal in the 2021 World Juniors just a couple of years ago, proving to the world that he’s not just a big-body or a power forward; he’s someone who can contribute as a top-nine forward at the NHL level.

Since scoring in the first game of the season, Soderblom has recorded just one point, another goal in Detroit’s fifth game of the year on September 23rd against Anaheim. Following the fifth game of the season, Soderblom had gone pointless in eight straight games averaging under 13-minutes per night, recording just nine total shots on goal. Soderblom had recorded 11 shots on goal over his first five games.

Soderblom made up one-third of Detroit’s terrific third line, consisting of Michael Rasmussen and Oskar Sundqvist. The trio was nicknamed ‘The Redwoods’ due to their average 6-foot-6 size and became a threat offensively and proved very tough to play against.

Detroit Red Wings forward Elmer Soderblom may benefit from a stint in the AHL once he returns to full health.

Despite being stricken by injuries over the first two months of the season, the Detroit Red Wings have managed to maintain a 7-5-4 record. Detroit had been forced to play without a pair of top-six forwards. Tyler Bertuzzi missed over a month due to a broken hand, and the team is also without Jakub Vrana due to a personal matter. In addition to those impactful injuries, the Red Wings are without Robby Fabbri, who continues to recover from an ACL injury, plus have missed Sundqvist for a stretch. Oh, and let’s not forget about Filip Zadina, who will be out for an extended period after breaking a bone after blocking a shot.

The organization brought up Matt Luff from Grand Rapids, who has since been lost for an extended period of time after suffering an ugly hit from behind. Detroit also recalled Austin Czarnik. As the organization continued to search for reinforcements, Detroit eventually recalled a top forward prospect in Jonatan Berggren. Berggren has quickly made an impact playing alongside Joe Veleno.

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The Detroit Red Wings recently got Bertuzzi and Sunqvist back into their lineup, and despite recently placing Soderblom on IR, he’s expected to be ready to return to the lineup following Detroit’s west coast road trip that will conclude with a stop in Columbus this Saturday before returning home to square off with Nashville next Wednesday.

So far, the odd-man out has been Czarnik, with Bertuzzi and Sundqvist re-inserted into Detroit’s lineup. Once Soderblom is ready to play again, don’t be surprised if he’s sent to Grand Rapids for a stint with the Griffins rather than Berggren.

Soderblom needs to improve on the defensive side of things and needs to become more assertive on his skates. For a man of his size, he tends to be bumped off the puck far too easily. Also, since going cold offensively, a boost in that area will do him wonders. Grand Rapids will offer an opportunity for Soderblom to round out his game and improve in all of these areas.