Detroit Red Wings prospect Elmer Soderblom has always been big. Since arriving to play for the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins, he’s also been playing big.
The metamorphosis in Soderblom’s game is quite noticeable to those seeing him on a regular basis in both the NHL and AHL.
“He’s starting to play with a lot of confidence,” said Grand Rapids goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. Like Soderblom, Nedeljkovic began the season with the Red Wings, watching the 6-foot-8, 246-pound Soderblom making his NHL debut.
“He’s a big body, especially down here, but even up top there he was playing with some confidence. You can see it, he’s trying to make plays and he’s playing with a little bit of an edge, too. He’s trying to be a little physical at times, which is great.”
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) February 5, 2023
With his unique physical tools, Soderblom is imposing. When he’s adding a mean streak to his massive frame, well then he becomes downright intimidating.
“He’s a big boy,” Griffins coach Ben Simon said. “He’s a large man. Playing consistently with the tenacity that he’s capable of obviously will help him.”
For his part, Soderblom believes that adding a physical element to his overall high-end skillset can only make him more of a threat on the ice.
“Yeah, of course,” Soderblom said. “I want to play my best game, use my size and my skills also. I’m trying to use both.”
Soderblom A Unique Specimen
There’s really never been a Red Wings player who provides Soderblom’s combination of size and skill level. He’s capable of beating opponents via his hockey tool box. His next objective is to consitently be able to beat opponents down with his physical tools.
“I feel I’m improving every single game,” Soderblom said. “It feels better and better.”
As he’s mastering his craft in the AHL, that old theory about process leading to production is proving to be an accurate measurable in Soderblom’s case. In his first six games with the Griffins, he was held pointless. In six games since, Soderblom is showing 4-2-6 numbers.
— Grand Rapids Griffins (@griffinshockey) February 4, 2023
“Those points are coming because he’s playing a little bit quicker,” Simon said. “He’s moving his feet, he’s playing a little bit heavier on the puck. Those are all things that are kind of intertwined. They’re connected.
“But you can’t evaluate a player just based on points. I think that’s stupid to be honest with you. If you’re playing the right way, it’ll take care of itself. Elmer is another young kid that is . . . he’s gotta figure it out and he’s starting to figure it out slowly but surely.
“A big body like that who has a unique skillset, the future’s bright for him.”
It is his unique skillset that might make Soderblom the first player to be called up should Detroit find itself in need of a forward. No other player in Grand Rapids can bring to the Red Wings the type of package that Soderblom is capable of delivering.
Delivering The Goods
Nedeljkovic shudders to think what a Soderblom who’s regularly imposing his will on the opposition could wind up creating on the ice.
“As long as he kind of focuses on that side of it, playing hard, being difficult to play against, he’s got all the skill in the world and all the talent in the world,” Nedeljkovic said. “With his size, he’s gonna be a handful for anybody at any level.
“Just find a way to play with that edge consistently, which he’s starting to kind of do.”