Detroit Red Wings prospect Elmer Soderblom is what hockey scouts like to call a late bloomer. Selected in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL entry draft at 149th overall, Soderblom today stands out in the crowd amongst the club’s top NHL hopefuls – both literally and figuratively.
At 6-foot-8 and 249 pounds, it’s hard not to notice Soderblom. After a 21-goal season for Frolunda in the SHL, it’s difficult to contain the excitement of what might lay ahead for the 21-year-old Swede.
“He’s a mountain,” fellow Red Wings prospect Simon Edvinsson, his teammate at Frolunda, said of Soderblom. “He likes to score goals. He’s a good goal-scorer, a great protector of the puck. He’s a great skater.
“In general he’s had tremendous development last year. When you see him here for the first time you’re going to recognize him. He’s a really great player.”
Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman, a man not given to hyperbole, is also admitting to tinglings of excitement at Soderblom’s blossoming potential.
“Based on what he’s done the last couple of years, his progress, we’re pretty excited about it,” Yzerman said. “Sure he’s a pleasant surprise but we need some surprises within our drafts. They’re not all going to make it, but it looks like he’s got a good opportunity.”
Soderblom Requiring An Adjustment Period
When it comes to tapping into Soderblom’s potential, it might be wise for everyone to tap the brakes. History shows that Soderblom doesn’t take steps up the hockey ladder in one giant leap. He tends to be more about making baby steps into every level of the game.
“He’s kind of got a profile that is a bit all over,” explained NHL prospect expert Byron Bader of HockeyProspecting.com. “He’s kind of up and down, which is not very common.”
The evidence is backing up this assessment. At the U16 level in Sweden, Soderblom’s goal production jumped from two in his first season to 23 in his second year. Moving to U18, he went from zero goals to 15 in consecutive campaigns. At the U20 level, Soderblom’s season-by-season goal output was 0-9-29. Finally, in the senior SHL, Sweden’s top level, Soderblom’s three-season goal output was 0-3-21.
“He switches leagues and he really drops down and the production goes way down,” Bader said. “And then in the second season that he’s in that league, it shoots back up.”
“Normally you see nice, steady growth. You like to see a nice, constant growth, where he’s sort of up and down when he moves leagues.”
Patience Could Be Key With Soderblom
Yzerman gets that Soderblom is often slow on the uptake as his moves up the ladder. Granted his assessment of why might be more old-school eye test than fancy stats analytics.
“Maybe an unscientific rule, but it seems the big guys, it takes them a little bit longer to grow into their bodies and he looks to be doing that,” Yzerman said of Soderblom.
With each step of the way, Soderblom is displaying that he’ll endure some growing pains. At the same time, he’s also proving to be a player who’s worth the wait.
“You might see that as he jumps over to the AHL, that it takes him a bit and then he jumps up,” Bader said. “He could be a decent bet for a late-round guy.”
Clearly, Soderblom will be coming into his first North American season with a buzz preceding his arrival.
“I don’t want to over-hype him and I’m not trying to over-hype him but we’re cautiously optimistic that he’ll be a real good NHLer,” Yzerman said.
No one is saying that it won’t be happening for Soderblom. His track record, though, is suggesting that it won’t be happening for him this season.