The present may be tense for the Detroit Red Wings but the future continues to gleam with the bright sheen of hopefulness.
Latest statistics from the Swedish Hockey League are showing that the top three under-21 defensemen in scoring are all Red Wings draft picks.
Topping the charts is Albert Johansson. He’s accounted for 5-18-23 totals in 48 games for Färjestad BK. Next up is William Wallinder. Playing for Rogle BK Angelholm, the same club that last season employed Red Wings rookie sensation Moritz Seider, Wallinder has collected 4-13-17 numbers in 42 games. Tied with Wallinder in points is Frolunda’s Simon Edvinsson. He’s totaled 1-16-17 digits in 39 games.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each player’s performance.
Albert Johansson, 21 (60th overall, 2019 NHL entry draft)
The son of former NHL defenseman Roger Johansson, he’s already in his third full season of SHL competition. The Red Wings opted to keep Johansson in Sweden for one more season even though he’s already signed an entry-level NHL deal, and it appears to be a decision that’s paying dividends.
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For the third successive campaign, Johansson is showing increased productivity. He accounted for 13 points in 2019-20 and 19 points in 2020-21. Johansson is viewed as a smart player. He’s a mobile skater and puck mover with an above average shot.
“He’s got ability with the puck,” Red Wings European scout Hakan Andersson said.
William Wallinder, 19 (32nd overall, 2020 NHL entry draft)
Not only is Wallinder putting up points, he’s a solid +5 and often is playing top-pair minutes for Rogle. A strong skater, he projects as a solid defender who probably won’t be a star but should be a reliable blueline performer.
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“I try to bring always give 100 percent in every shift, always do my best to help the team win,” Wallinder said. “I’m just a good two-way defenseman that can play in every zone.”
Simon Edvinsson, 19 (6th overall, 2021 NHL entry draft)
The one that all Red Wings fans are waiting to see in person. Is Edvinsson going to be Seider 2.0? That might be too big of an ask but there are NHL scouts who believe it’s entirely possible that Detroit GM Steve Yzerman got himself the best player in last year’s draft class.
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) March 12, 2022
“This season I’ve seen him taking strides, big strides to become more of a comfortable player playing against men,” Detroit vice-president of hockey operations Nicklas Lidstrom said. “His ice time has increased. He can skate the puck up the ice all by himself. He plays a lot harder in his own zone.
“I’ve seen improvements from him in one year. A lot of things happen when you’re 17, 18 years old. A lot of things kind of develop even more, even better. But I’ve seen some big steps just from one year to another.”
Plenty Of Talent In Red WIngs Defensive Pool
Along with Seider and this Swedish trio, Detroit also have Eemil Viro (70th overall, 2020) playing for TPS Turku in Finland’s SM-liiga. Already, Jared McIsaac (36th overall, 2018) and Donovan Sebrango (63rd overall, 2020) are playing pro with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins.
Detroit’s cupboard of defensive prospects looks to be well stocked. Not all of them will utlimately make the grade but for a team with obvious defensive shortcomings, a more the merrier policy is not a bad philosophy to be undertaking.