The message for precious defensive detective Simon Edvinson during his first boot camp with the Detroit Red Wings is to take full advantage of his 6-foot-6, 207-pound frame.
“The guys are with me, (Dylan) Larkin in particular, to be harder, win on my own,” Edvinson said. “I have a very big body, a very long range. In Sweden you sort of do everything. It’s a different kind of one-on-one duels along the boards. Here you have to be more aggressive and that’s what I need to be better. If I work on it and feel comfortable with the game it will go up.” I will build my trust.”
Edvinsson has a perfect form in the Moritz Seider, who’s roughly his size (6-4, 205) and last season showed how tough it can be to play against him en route to winning the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.
“It plays the kind of challenging game I want to develop,” Edvinson said. “I try to see the drills when he plays, how he plays. We have a different kind of playing style but I can do a lot of things he does too, to play hard and play the discus.
“He is one of the best defenders in the league. I need to earn my place. I try to look at him as much as possible to develop my game from there and maybe reach that level at some point.”
Edvinsson, the sixth pick in 2021, is trying to secure a spot on the NHL roster after booming with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League.
His strengths are his ability to skate and puck movement. But even Edvinson’s former Frolunda teammate Lucas Raymond, Edvinson’s younger, showed him how to compete in drills.
“He loves to fight. It’s fun. It pushes everyone forward,” Edvinson said. “One thing I’ve really learned is that you need to be very aggressive and harder with the player.”
Meanwhile, coach Derek Lalonde’s message to Edvinson is not to try to overstate it.
Our goal would be to simplify things for him,” Lalonde said. “What’s really important to Simon is the hard reps. Play within you, take it all in stride, and take a really hard approach to training and getting those serious reps is what we’ll be looking for from Simon.”
Many are expecting Edvinsson on the opening night of the Red Wings lineup, October 14th against Montreal. General Manager Steve Yzerman said he’s tempering expectations, noting that Edvinsson is only 19 years old and a year off the draft.
“Moretz took advantage of playing a year in MLS and then moving during the pandemic and playing for a year in Sweden, so he got that extra year of development before he got involved,” Yzerman said. “I think Simon has a good chance. I can’t sit here today and tell you he’s definitely going to be in the squad for opening night. But we’re happy with a lot of the things we’ve seen in the Prospects Championship.
“Watching it last week Simon looks very comfortable on the ice. He gets the disc, drives it. … He’s a good athlete. It’s been a great season and it’s been a great season.”
Edvinson said Niclas Liedstrom and Niclas Kronwall, former Red Wings now in the front office, told him he looked good in the Prospects Championship last week, but Edvinson was not happy with his game.
“I have higher expectations of myself,” he said.
“You need to earn your place. That’s what they told me. That’s what I want to do. I don’t want it because of some noise. I want to feel like I can play my game in that league.”
Off the ice in Traverse City, Edvinsson struck up a relationship with veteran Ben Chiarot. Uli Mata and his defensive partner Gustav Lindstrom helped. An expedition fishing failed to produce a large amount, but Edvinson won a mini golf competition against some of his fellow Swedes.
“I would say I’m the best junior golfer here,” he said.
The Red Wings’ top defense pairs appear in group with Chiarot-Seider and Maatta-Filip Hronek. Edvinson could compete for second place with Lindstrom and veterans Jordan Austerl and Robert Haag (Jake Wollman and Mark Pesek will start the season in the injured reserve).
“I want him to play regularly, I don’t want him to be in and out of the squad, I don’t want him not to get a chance in special teams, at least in one of the units,” said Yzerman. “We’ll let his play dictate sort of – No. 1 in pre-season, how much he plays – and then we’ll decide at some point. Most importantly, I want him to play an important role.”
Pre-season matches will determine whether Edvinsson makes the team or starts the season with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins.
“Could he step in and play in the NHL and be an influential player? Yes,” said Laserman. “But let’s wait and see. If he’s ready, that’s great. If he’s not, that’s fine. I think he’s going to be a really good player in the league. Is this year? Is it Christmas? Is it next year? We’ll see.”