Red Wings: Steve Yzerman preaches patience with Elmer Soderblom

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The towering 6-foot-8 forward performed exceptionally well this past season, his first in North America, but the Detroit Red Wings will be hoping Elmer Soderblom takes a step forward in 2023-24.

Soderblom, 21, surprised many after making the Detroit Red Wings’ opening night roster following an impressive training camp and preseason. The former sixth-round draft selection (159th overall) from the 2019 NHL Entry Level Draft made a great first impression by scoring in his debut. In that contest, Soderblom played just shy of 13 minutes, was a plus-2 on the night, and his goal ended up being the game-winner.

Late-round draft success has been Detroit’s MO; since I can remember, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that with Soderblom’s mix of size and skill, he’s become one of Detroit’s top forward prospects.

Steve Yzerman preaching patience with Detroit Red Wings prospect Elmer Soderblom.

Yzerman recently spoke fondly of Soderblom and not only his size but his sneaky-good puck-handling abilities.

"“With his size and his hands, I think there’s a potential real NHL player,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “Can he do it over the course of an entire season? He was slowed a little bit by injury when he went to the minors and these things happen, going back to why it’s not always a smooth process of getting to the NHL. But I still hold out hope for him. Is it next year? I’d like it to be, but I can’t guarantee it.“My message to him and to a lot of the players there is just because you might have finished the year in GR, don’t assume that’s where you’re starting next year.”"

Soderblom scored a pair of goals over his first 13 games of last season with the Detroit Red Wings before suffering an injury that kept him out of the lineup for a month or so. The big fella returned to Detroit’s lineup in December with a bang going on an impressive six-game point streak where he recorded three goals and six points. Soon thereafter, he’d be sent down to Grand Rapids to clear a roster spot for veteran Robby Fabbri to make his season debut after he’d been sidelined for an extended period recovering from the third knee surgery of his career.

Yzerman also talked about Soderblom’s growth and knows Detroit has flexibility.

"“We’ll see what his off-season’s like,” Yzerman said. “I have a good idea of what he is as a player. Is there room for growth? Absolutely. I still think he has tons of potential. We’ll see how he does in preseason. If he’s not ready at the start of the year, and he’s not going to play a significant role, he can go to the minors. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for him.”"

Don’t forget, in addition to Yzerman, head coach Derek Lalonde, and Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin spoke about how the organization needs to get tougher this summer. All mentioned that ‘getting tougher’ doesn’t mean fighting every minute but standing up for each other, proving they won’t be pushed around, and simply playing a more physical brand of hockey. Detroit wants to be tougher to play against.

Soderblom hasn’t shown a willingness to punish defenders on the forecheck, but if he can put on some weight and fill out that massive 6-foot-8 frame without forfeiting much speed and offensive skill, it will significantly benefit the organization. Soderblom figures to be a prominent net-front presence on the power play once he proves he can be an NHL regular, hopefully as effective as veteran Alex Chiasson had been down the stretch for the Red Wings. He also projects as a bottom-six depth scorer with plenty of upside.

Next. 3 options for Detroit at goalie heading into 2023-24. dark

Soderblom turns 22 this July, and Detroit has time to bring him along slowly. This past year he totaled five goals and eight points over 21 games with the Red Wings, plus identical totals over 20 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins before being shut down in early March for the season with an undisclosed injury.