At 6-foot-8, the Detroit Red Wings rookie stands an inch short of the tallest man to play in the NHL, Zdeno Chara. He is tied for the title of longest forward to play in the league, along with Mitchell Fritz, Steve McKenna and John Scott.
The shoe size is 15. The shoe size is 12-7/8, the shoe length is 322 mm. Paul Boyer is the greatest Detroit offensive lineman they’ve seen in 29 NHL seasons.
NHL rules limit heel to shaft to 63 inches, but players 6-6 or taller can request an exception and go up to 65 inches. Of course, Soderblom’s stick is very long.
“I won’t cut it,” he said. “It’s the longest I can. It’s under my chin. I love it.”
The amazing part? He is no lumberjack. Although the 21-year-old is a work in progress, adjusting to the speed of the NHL and learning to use his body, he has a smooth stride and good hands. That’s a long stick whip so it can release quick wrists. He radiates great talent.
He scored in his NHL debut, a 3–0 win against the Montreal Canadiens on October 14. On October 17, in a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, he stuck his fist in the blade of his bat. In a 1-on-1 rush to escape the opponent in the neutral zone and through the offensive blue line. He scored again on October 23 in a 5–1 win against the Anaheim Ducks, chipping in another rebound.
“I think there will still be big ups and downs in the game,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “But there is something very interesting.”
Video: [email protected]: Soderblom opens scoring in NHL debut
Soderblom said he’s always been the biggest player on the growing team. But the hero was up-and-coming Peter Forsberg, and the coaches didn’t try to make him a physical defender.
“I think it’s important to play your own game,” he said.
He said playing football and wrestling helped him control his body until he focused only on hockey at 11 and 12. He spent hours in the backyard catching and shooting puppies.
Hakan Andersen, director of European scouting, has tipped Söderblom in Gothenburg, Sweden as a potential prospect in junior hockey in 2018-19.
“He’ll go a period or two without showing anything,” Anderson said. “But he made one or two moves where you go, ‘Wow, this kid has some talent.'”
After the season ended, Soderblom’s team continued to practice three times a week until the end of June, in time for the 2019 NHL Draft. The coaches singled out one Anderson as a player who had improved significantly during that time. The Red Wings selected him in the sixth round (No. 159).
“I think a lot of teams didn’t see him enough in the offseason to draft him,” Anderson said. “But hearing that made me pick up a flyer on him.”
Soderblom began to blossom over the next three seasons, working with Niklas Kronwall and others in the Red Wings’ player development department. In 2019-20, Frolunda had no points in 10 games for the Swedish Hockey League. In 2020-21, he had five points (three goals, two assists) in 28 games. He had 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 52 games in 2021-22.
After scoring two goals in five preseason games — including a jaw-dropping one in a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 7 when he used his arm to elude an opponent and blasted a backhand shot high off the shelf — 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, I hope to pick up some points and become more of an attacking threat,” he said. “That’s my main goal.”
While the Red Wings are teaching him to use moderation to his advantage, they make him who he is.
“In a perfect world, I wish he could visually hit everyone and hold their hands,” Anderson said. “He’s going to be a superstar. But he is. He doesn’t have one of the average streaks in North America.”
The father of Buffalo Sabers defenseman Martin Dahlin Rasmus DahlinHe watched Söderblom from the age of 14 and was an assistant coach when Söderblom played for Sweden at the international level. “Over the past two years, I’ve learned to use my size better, especially to protect the puck,” he said.
“He was always smart,” Dahlin said. But now they can see that development is starting to come together.
Soderblom still has a long way to go. Sometimes the NHL seems too fast for him. He made changes that made them score.
But it took years before Chara became an accomplished 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 2008-16 and Fritz had no points in 20 NHL games in 2008. -09. Of the officially listed 6-7 or older NHL forwards, no one has reached 20 goals in an NHL career.
Soderblom is trying to do something that has never been done before, and at least figuratively, he still has a lot of room to grow.
“It’s a fast game,” Soderblom said. “Less time than SHL. More physical. It’s very important to win lines, be careful on the puck and just pay attention to the small details. But I think it’s getting better and better. It’s fun to play in. [the NHL]. I feel like I’m adding to it.”