Detroit Red Wings keeping Simon Edvinsson in AHL may be best for now

Oct 4, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Simon Edvinsson (77) takes the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Simon Edvinsson (77) takes the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

While I agree with almost everyone’s point of view that Simon Edvinsson deserves a spot in the Detroit Red Wings lineup, I find great value in him playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Let’s go back to game one of the Grand Rapids Griffins 2023-24 season.

Sitting next to my dad, we watch Edvinsson strip the puck from the opposition in the Griffins’ defensive zone. “Nice,” my dad says in response to the play. I agree; slick Edvinsson making incredible moves.

Before we blink, the puck is gone. It’s back to the opponent’s stick in the neutral zone. Edvinsson essentially passes to the opposing team.

My dad asks, “What did he do that for?”

There wasn’t high pressure on Edvinsson when he made the play, so I’m not sure of his thought process. While I know Edvinsson had the best intentions, it didn’t work out for the better in this instance.

Reluctantly admitting to my dad, “That play sums up Edvinsson’s game.”

Edvinsson’s play has moments of brilliance. He can do things on the ice that I don’t see defensemen doing. That I don’t see players of his size doing. Things that I see nobody else doing.

Then, moments of, “huh?” This inconsistent playmaking is something that I have noticed at various levels of competition. The inconsistencies are lessening as Edvinsson progresses, but they happen.

Likely, it’s something that he will have to be mindful of his entire career. Especially if he wants a shot with the Detroit Red Wings sooner than later.

Detroit Red Wings prospect Simon Edvinsson showing flashes in G.R.

You might think, well, every National Hockey League (NHL) player has shades of inconsistency in their game. And you are entirely correct.

I would argue that most players don’t have Edvinsson’s ability to impact the game. He’s destined to be one of the best defensemen for the future Red Wings. With his higher impact on the game, the swings and misses are that much greater.

If Edvinsson can minimize these learning opportunities at the American Hockey League (AHL) level, it should help his impact as a full-time NHL player.

This sentiment leads me to my next reason why, in my humble opinion, Edvinsson is exactly where he needs to be. Edvinsson is still figuring out himself, his game, and the plays he wants to make on a consistent basis.

Frequently, Edvinsson defers to his defensive partner to transition up the ice. When his defensive partner is someone like Albert Johansson, this deferring works well.

Edvinsson and Johansson play well together, as touched on in a piece about Johansson. Also, I tweeted that Edvinsson and Johansson are a set and shouldn’t be separated (I saw the label printed on their jerseys).

In reality, they aren’t likely to play together on the Detroit Red Wings roster.

Generally, young players are paired with older players to help provide leadership. Additionally, contract situations might make it so that the Detroit Red Wings have to sign cheaper, less effective defensemen. In turn, this situation may lead to guys like Moritz Seider, Edvinsson, and Johansson having to hold their own on a defensive pair rather than putting them together, essentially spreading the wealth.

Where Edvinsson and Johansson are currently, this dynamic of Edvinsson deferring to his exceptional playmaking partner works superbly.

While it’s possible that Edvinsson doesn’t have the playmaking vision of Johansson, I find it hard to believe. Johansson is wise. He makes consistent, safe plays to exit the defensive zone. Johansson shines in the offensive zone, which seems to be his favorite zone.

In contrast, Edvinsson is clever and inventive, but it’s possible that before getting the puck, Edvinsson might not assess the ice as well as Johansson. To defend Edvinsson a bit, Johansson seems to have eyes everywhere on the ice all at once. This quality speaks more to Johansson’s abilities than any downside to Edvinsson’s game.

Furthermore, when Edvinsson gets the puck, it seems like he wants to get rid of it as soon as possible. Impatience coupled with his reactionary play (rather than the proactive style of a guy like Johansson) are my theories as to why he might not be consistent with his play.

If he hasn’t already done so, I think implementing some of Henrik Zetterberg’s play style into Edvinsson’s game might help.

Even though Zetterberg played as a forward and Edvinsson is a defenseman, Zetterberg had patience in his game that Edvinsson lacks. And I have complete faith in Edvinsson’s ability to protect the puck, hanging on to it like Zetterberg once did in the Winged Wheel. Not to the degree of Zetterberg, yet I suspect Edvinsson could get close to that level.

Holding on to the puck for a few extra moments might help Edvinsson assess the ice better, allowing him to see all of his options on the ice or steady himself to make the breakout pass he’s aiming for.

In other words, he can slow the game and dictate his next step on his own terms. Likely, this is something Edvinsson’s already working on at the AHL level that should help as he graduates to the NHL.

As he gains confidence in slowing play to his preferred speed, his raw tools and abilities will reach greater heights. He has to trust himself and his abilities.

Detroit Red Wings prospect Simon Edvinsson has a real nonchalant personality.

Whether they’re around the bench or somewhere on the ice, the Griffins will have a powwow. It seems like everyone’s taking part, with the exception of Edvinsson. As often as he’s part of the gathering, he’s off doing his own thing.

In the moments where Edvinsson is not part of the gathering, I envision Drax from Marvel’s Infinity Wars and his interaction with Iron Man.

In the scene, Iron Man says, “I have a plan.” A few moments later, Drax yawns during Iron Man’s plan lecture. Iron Man asks, “Are you yawning?” taken aback by the disengaged Drax. Drax says that he stopped listening after Iron Man says that he has a plan. Every time I see Edvinsson not paying attention to the group, I laugh because of that scene that comes to mind.

This aspect of Edvinsson’s personality, I presume, is well understood by the Detroit Red Wings and Griffins. It’s not a downside, but it may have to do with his intuitive nature. Rather than focusing on a plan, he just wings it, and that works well for him.

Also, it’s something to keep in mind when trying to find a suitable defensive partner for Edvinsson.

Someone like Johansson is very patient with Edvinsson. He’s willing to put in the time to understand Edvinsson. Johansson communicates in a way that works for Edvinsson. Not everyone is like Johansson and might take Iron Man’s approach, which won’t end well.

Thus, Edvinsson’s defensive partner, over the next few seasons especially, is critical in his development. Fortunately, the Griffins have more flexibility, with the AHL being a developmental league. Winning is important, but so is developing players for the NHL.

My final thought on Edvinsson staying longer in Grand Rapids than Red Wings fans would like is depth. The Red Wings are making a push for the playoffs. As such, it’s vital to have depth at every position, including defense.

Recalling Edvinsson, or even Johansson, without having an injury means that the Red Wings would have to waive a player. Waiving a player is likely to result in that player being claimed, where the player goes to another team, and reducing the depth of the Red Wings organization.

As it stands currently, the Red Wings are robust at each position. Losing even one player could throw the depth chart off and cause a ripple effect.

Making the playoffs isn’t a huge deal, but I presume it’s a huge deal for Ilitch Holdings. To the fanbase as a whole, it’s likely a big deal. The playoff drought for the Red Wings is understandable. At some point, though, water is needed so the drought can end. Let’s hope the water, in this case, isn’t a mirage.

I, like most fans, would love to see Edvinsson as a full-time NHL player today. Sooner than later, he will be. However, it’s in everyone’s best interest that he continues on this scenic path to his full-time NHL position.

Randy Pausch once said, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”

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In the case of Simon Edvinsson, he’s gaining the most valuable thing he can offer now to reach his full potential tomorrow for the Detroit Red Wings organization.

(If you get a chance to listen to Pausch’s full last lecture, it’s worth it. Alternatively, there is a shorter version that hits most of Pausch’s points from the lecture. There’s also a book, which I haven’t read yet, but my mom loves).