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Red Wings sign Elmer Söderblom to Entry-Level Contract

The towering forward impressed in the Swedish league last season

Finland v Sweden: Quarterfinals - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The news we have expected for a while has now become official:

Here’s the team’s presser:

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings today signed forward Elmer Soderblom to a three-year entry-level contract.

Soderblom, 20, had a breakout season in 2021-22 with Frolunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League, ranking among the team leaders with 21 goals (1st), 12 assists (7th), 33 points (3rd), seven power play goals (1st), 11 power play points (4th), eight game-winning goals (1st) and 132 shots (1st) in 52 games. The 6-foot-8, 249-pound forward also produced nine points (6-3-9) and a plus-five rating in 11 Champions Hockey League games as Frolunda reached the semifinals of the competition. Additionally, Soderblom recorded six points (3-3-6) and a plus-six rating in nine postseason contests to help Frolunda reach the SHL playoff semifinals. In all, Soderblom has compiled 38 points (24-14-38) and 11 penalty minutes in 90 SHL games since 2019-20 and won a CHL title with Frolunda in his first professional season.

Selected by the Red Wings in the sixth round (159th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Soderblom has developed in Frolunda’s system since 2014-15 and made his SHL debut during the 2019-20 campaign after leading the under-20 circuit with 29 goals in 36 games. In total, Soderblom recorded 76 points (40-36-76) and 22 penalty minutes in 87 games at the under-20 level, 53 points (26-27-53) and 14 penalty minutes in 60 games at the under-18 level and 93 points (62-31-93) and 49 penalty minutes in 78 games on the under-16 circuit, all with Frolunda. The Gothenburg, Sweden, native racked up three points (2-1-3) in five appearances for his country at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. Along with fellow 2019 Red Wings draftees Albert Johansson and Albin Grewe, Soderblom was also a member of Sweden’s silver-medal Hlinka Gretzky Cup team (1-2-3 in five games) in 2018 and gold medal-winning IIHF World Under-18 Championship squad (1-0-1 in seven games) in 2019.

To add context, I really only saw Söderblom at the first Traverse City rookie camp after he was drafted and was immediately impressed to see a guy with that much size not looking like Bambi’s first experience with frozen water. Hearing the news of him from across the pond has only left me more excited for his path to the NHL.

For all the nerd stuff about this, Elmer’s rights were exclusive until July of 2023 but there was no reason not to sign him earlier if they intend to bring him to North America. he now counts against the 50-contract limit and with his ELC signing age being 21 (he turns 21 on July 5th this year) his contract cannot slide regardless of which league he’s in. He will become eligible for waivers after three years or after playing in 80 NHL games. Söderblom will also be eligible for salary arbitration at the end of this contract.

In short (a weird thing to say for a tall guy, I guess), Söderblom is likely to start his Red Wings career in Grand Rapids getting acclimated to the North American game, but comes into a system where Wings fans might expect a quicker meritocracy than the old seasoning formula used for Swedish forwards. The 80-game limit to waiver eligibility might make the team a little more careful than if they were given 160 games to work with, but Detroit needs folks who can play at the NHL level more than they need to artificially slow down a player’s waiver clock so I’m not terribly worried about that.