Two hockey publications discuss the exploits of the Red Wings’ Swedish prospects this morning.
- Dobber Hockey’s Pat Quinn offers assessments of 2020 draft-eligible Swedish players, Swedish players that have been drafted by NHL teams, players loaned to Swedish teams, and a couple of “dark horses.”
Wings prospect Jonatan Berggren is mentioned in the “drafted prospects” category…
Jonatan Berggren, LW/RW, Skellefteå AIK (Detroit Red Wings): Strong on the puck, dynamic skater and a great competitor. Those are three attributes that would describe the 20-year-old winger the best. Berggren is going to start this season just where he finished the previous one, in Skellefteå. Detroit’s second round pick from the 2018 NHL Draft looked pretty solid in the 2019-20 campaign as he collected two goals and 12 points in 24 SHL games. He also played for Team Sweden at the World Juniors where he contributed to a bronze medal with one goal and five points in seven games. This is going to be his third full year in the SHL and since the Red Wings still hesitate to sign him to an entry level contract due to injuries, he is expected to make even bigger impact than he did last time around.
Berggren is coming off a couple of back surgeries over the past two seasons, so that’s a concern for the Wings, but the mighty mite (he’s about 5’8″ or 5’9″) has a high skill level…
And a player on the other end of the size-and-strength spectrum earns a mention from Quinn in the “Dark Horses” category:
Elmer Söderblom, RW/C, Frölunda HC (Detroit Red Wings): Söderblom is one of the most interesting players on this list. He is a giant (6-7, 227 lbs) but very skilled forward who can not only play a physical game but also score some goals. The Red Wings prospect showed his true potential in the SuperElit where he marked 29 goals and 55 points in just 36 games during the 2019-20 campaign. By now, he should be ready to take a next step to the SHL. However, the biggest issue with his game is his skating and if he manages to improve in this area, he can become a dangerous weapon for an undoubtedly strong Frölunda squad.
When big Elmer was at the Wings’ summer development camp in 2019, he stated that he grew consistently into the giant-sized prospect that he is today, so he never had to deal with any sort of “growth spurt” that affected his coordination or timing. He’s a massive player who I would project as a checking forward at the NHL level, assuming he makes it across the pond.
2. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman also discussed Swedish prospects this morning, offering analyses based upon the Swedes and Finns’ versions of World Junior Summer Showcases.
Because the WJSS scheduled to take place in Plymouth, MI this past July and August was canceled, its usual participants (Team USA, Team Canada, Team Sweden and Team Finland) took different paths toward preparing their Under-20 teams for the 2021 World Junior Championship.
As Pronman notes, the Swedes chose to have their U20 team play against professional teams in Sweden, and he reports that two Red Wings prospects made favorable impressions during those games. You’ve already heard of one of them:
Albert Johansson, D, Detroit: Johansson was the top defenseman at Sweden’s camp. In the 2001 age group he’s historically been buried behind numerous first-round-pick caliber talents for Sweden on defense. But with all those players not at the camp, he had an opportunity to shine. He’s a very smart two-way player who can use his brain and feet to help his team’s transition game. “His game has grown a lot since playing all last season against men. He is stronger and more confident with and without the puck. He knows he can match his opponents,” [Sweden coach Tomas] Monten said.
Elmer Soderblom, RW, Detroit: Soderblom, drafted by the Red Wings in the sixth round in 2019, is trending up. He received praise from the coaching staff as one of Sweden’s top players at camp, along with Holmstrom and Johansson among the drafted prospects. Soderblom created chances for himself and others, and used his massive 6-foot-6 frame to get to the hard areas of the ice. “He’s a big guy but now he plays big. Gaining strength and quickness has helped his game become more efficient. He’s strong on pucks and takes them to the net hard,” Monten said.
Continued (paywall); I keep hearing good things about Johansson, the son of former Calgary Flames defenseman Roger Johansson, and the Red Wings saw enough in the puck-lugging defenseman to sign him to an entry-level contract on June 5th. He’s not big at a listed 6′ and 168 pounds, but he’ll get a fair shot at playing with Farjestads BK’s men’s team this upcoming season.
As for Soderblom, again, we’re talking about more of a long-shot prospect, but one does not sleep upon a prospect as naturally gifted with size and above-average skating abilities as Soderblom is.
The Red Wings’ crop of draft picks from the Ken Holland regime tend to be smaller in stature, so having a “big guy” in the system is encouraging in terms of balancing the scales.
Like Johansson, Soderblom is expected to stick with a SHL team this season, with Soderblom having inked a contract with the powerhouse Frolunda Indians this past summer; he’s also still growing into his body at an EliteProspects-listed 6’7″ and 227 pounds, so that’s intriguing.