Soderblom trying to hit new heights in rookie season with Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings rookie is 6 feet tall, an inch shorter than the NHL’s tallest player, Zdeno Chara. Along with Mitchell Fritz, Steve McCann and John Scott, he is tied for the title of tallest forward in the league.

His shoe size is 15. His skate size is 12-7/8 and his blade spans 322 millimeters. Each is the greatest Detroit equipment manager Paul Boyer has seen in his 29 NHL seasons.

NHL rules limit the length of clubs to 63 inches from the heel to the tip of the shaft, but players 6-6 or taller can request an exception and go up to 65 inches. Of course, Soderblom’s stick is extremely long.

“I’m not cutting it,” he said. “It’s the longest I can get. It’s under my chin. I love it.”

The amazing part? He is no lumberjack. While the 21-year-old continues to work, adjust to the speed of the NHL and learn to use his body, he has a smooth step and good hands. This long stick is pointed so he can quickly shoot his wrist. He shows top class skills.

He scored in his NHL debut on a rebound in a 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on October 14. In a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 17, he juggled the puck with the blade of his stick. through the neutral zone and across the offensive blue line to escape a 1-on-1. He scored again in a 5-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on October 23 with another rebound.

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“I still think he’s going to have huge ups and downs,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “But there’s so much to worry about.”

Video: [email protected]: Soderblom starts scoring in his NHL debut

Soderblom said growing up he was always the biggest player on his team. But his hero was forward Peter Forsberg, and his coaches weren’t trying to make him, say, a physical defender.

“I think it’s important to play your game,” he said.

He said he played football and wrestled, which helped him learn to control his body, until he focused solely on hockey when he was 11 or 12. He spent hours working and shooting pucks in his backyard.

Håkan Andersson, the Red Wings’ director of European scouting, said Soderblom will be in Gothenburg, Sweden for the 2018-19 season. dropped hints about potential in junior hockey.

“He went a period or two without showing anything,” Anderson said. “But then he made a move or two where you went, ‘Wow.’ This kid has some skills.”

After the season ended, Soderblom’s team continued to practice three times a week until the end of June, around the time of the 2019 NHL Draft. His coaches singled him out to Andersson as one player who had improved significantly during that time. The Red Wings selected him in the sixth round (No. 159).

“I think most teams didn’t see enough in him during the season to draft him,” Anderson said. “But hearing that made me want to pick up a flyer for them.”

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Soderblom began to flourish over the next three seasons, working alongside Niklas Kronwall and others in the Red Wings player development department. 2019-2020 In 2010, he did not score in 10 games for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. 2020/2021 in 28 games he will have five points (three goals, two assists). 2021-2022 in 52 games he will have 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists).

After scoring two goals in five preseason games — including one in a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 7 when he used his arm to avoid an opponent and flashed a top-shelf backhand — Soderblom made the Red Wings’ opening night roster .

Video: [email protected]: Soderblom makes a move and buries it

“I just want to improve my game and show that I can play at this level, hopefully score some points and be more of a threat,” he said. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

While the Red Wings have taught him to use his size to his advantage, they have let him be who he is.

“You’d like in a perfect world for him to hit everybody in sight and have those hands,” Anderson said. “He would be a superstar. But that’s the way it is. He doesn’t have any of those North American mean streaks in him.”

Martin Dahlin, father of the Buffalo Sabers guard Rasmus Dalin, has watched Soderblom since he was 14 years old and was an assistant coach when Soderblom played internationally for Sweden. He said he’s learned to use his size a lot better over the last couple of years, especially to protect the puck.

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“He’s always been talented,” Dallin said. “But now you can see that his development is starting to come together.”

Soderblom still has a long way to go. The NHL has seemed fast for him at times. He had committed a turnover that resulted in a goal against.

But it took years before Chara became an elite defender. McKenna had 32 points (18 goals, 14 assists) in 373 NHL games from 1996-2004, Scott had 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 286 NHL games from 2008-2016, and Fritz in 2008 No points in 20 NHL games. -09. Of the nine NHL forwards officially listed as 6-7 or taller, none have scored 20 goals in their NHL career.

Soderblom is trying to do something that’s never been done before, and he still has a lot of room to grow, at least figuratively.

“It’s a fast game,” Soderblom said. “Less time than SHL. More physical. It’s very important to win lines, be careful with the puck and just pay attention to the little details. But I think it’s getting better and better. It’s fun to play [the NHL]. I think I’m settling into it more and more.”


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