Because Elmer Soderblom started the season with the Detroit Red Wings and finished with the Grand Rapids Griffins, GM Steve Yzerman had a scripted message for him during his exit interview.
Yzerman said he wanted Soderblom to know, “Just because you might have finished the year in GR, don’t assume that’s where you’re starting next year.’
Soderblom played 21 games for the Red Wings, and then 20 for the Griffins after he was sent down in January. Then, an undisclosed injury washed out the rest of his season. He didn’t play a game after March 10. The 6-foot-8 Soderblom had five goals with the Red Wings and five more for the Griffins.
The Red Wings seem convinced he can score at the NHL level, and the hope would be that he figures out how to use his size more effectively.
“I have a good idea of what he is as a player,” Yzerman said. “Is there room for growth? Absolutely. I still think he has tons of potential.”
I personally felt moving Soderblom down was not a good move. He showed a lot of promise on NHL ice. pic.twitter.com/R9Viz4lNG8
— Captain Larkin is a 1C 🤘🏽 (@deathmtl2474) April 15, 2023
Soderblom (drafted 159th in 2019) is still only 21. He will be 22 when training camp starts. “We’ll see what his offseason’s like,” Yzerman said.
Most of the Detroit younger players understand now that their offseason work can dictate what happens in the fall. Defenseman Albert Johansson worked extremely hard last summer and was at higher level this season.
The Red Wings want more push-back next season and it helps to have a 6-foot-8 athlete in your group. He hasn’t yet explored all that he can do with his massive frame.
“With his size and his hands, I think there’s a potential real NHL player,” Yzerman said.
There’s no guarantee that Soderblom will start the 2023-24 season in Detroit, but the Red Wings would be excited if he did.
“I still hold out hope for him,” Yzerman said. “Is it next year? I’d like it to be but I can’t guarantee it.”
But it sometimes takes larger players more time to develop. Yzerman has the patience to wait on Soderblom if that is required.
“If he’s not ready at the start of the year, and he’s not gonna play a significant role, he can go to the minors,” Yzerman It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for him. There’s several players around the league that kind of bounced around for awhile and finally found their way at 23, 24, or 25.”