Big defensemen in any NHL Draft is easily the most controversial picks. On one side you have the traditional scouts that love the big body of players and believe that is what wins you championships. On the other side, there’s the more progressive scouts that believe size is still beneficial, but would rather have a player that can provide more benefits to the game, other than being taller than everybody else.
Luckily, Simon Edvinsson has a little bit of both. He’s a very big Swedish defender, standing at 6-foot-5 (sometimes 6-foot-4 depending on what database you look at) but he also gives more offense than we’re used to from those towering defensemen selected in the first round.
There are plenty of things to like about Edvinsson’s game and the team selecting him in the first half of the first round — as projected — will certainly have lots to talk about and the fan base will have debates amongst themselves if someone more skilled but smaller is still available.
There’s always one defenseman that can cause a ruckus.
What Scouts Are Saying
Edvinsson was impressive in the junior ranks in Sweden. He was good, but not amazing at varying pro levels and was an anchor for Sweden’s U18 team internationally. He stands out instantly as a 6-foot-4 defenseman with legit offensive skill. It’s rare to see a player his size lead a rush or make a play off the blue line and dangle through opponents consistently like he does. Edvinsson is also quite a good skater for his size. His straightaway speed is just OK, but he’s got great edgework, showing the first step and quick turns to elude pressure and create clean exits and entries. Defensively his size and skating allow him to close gaps and make a lot of stops and he’s not afraid to be physical. He’s not a dynamic playmaker, but Edvinsson can make the heads-up first pass and shows some power-play poise. In a sentence, Edvinsson projects as a quality top-four defenseman and on a power-play unit with the potential to play higher in an NHL lineup.
You should never judge a prospect on their points in a men’s league, especially when that league is the third-best league in the world. Simon Robertsson is a great example of that. He had a productive start in J20 Nationell and was promoted early on to Skellefteå’s SHL team where he took on more of a bottom-six role and has greatly improved his defensive game and the pace to his game. He’s got some silky hands that can create space for himself, he reads the game well, got a great motor and he’s got one heck of a wrist shot, possibly the best one in this draft class. His shot is able to beat goalies clean from the blue line, that’s a rare talent.
Lets start this journey towards the 2021 NHL Draft with this clip of 6'4 defenseman Simon Edvinsson doing Simon Edvinsson stuff. pic.twitter.com/BuwQPNzMbq— Mikael Holm (@carlmikaelholm) October 25, 2020
His game is built around his physical skill-set. Edvinsson skates so smoothly that he appears languid on ice, yet still blazes past players six inches smaller than him on a regular basis. This translates beautifully when it comes to rushing up ice. His transition game really is something to behold. When he gets the puck on his stick in the defensive zone opposition forwards stomachs go into their throats. And that is understandable. In stride he can scythe through a neutral zone trap as though it is simply beneath him. There really is an air of condescension at times from Edvinsson when he has the puck on his stick, and who can blame him? There are not many players in Swedish juniors who have the ability to stop him fairly once he decides to go.
Edvinsson also has beautiful hands. He can deke as well as most high-skilled forwards, and has the confidence to take on multiple players either through the neutral zone, or once established in the offensive zone.
Ya know, this Simon Edvinsson guy might just be a guy. pic.twitter.com/946wsP8x0e— Will Scouch (@Scouching) September 8, 2020
The real area where we see him at his most impactful is in transition. Edvinsson is a very good skater, not just for his size, but in general. His speed is pretty good, but he’s really strong on his edges, making him quick and elusive in avoiding pressure from defenders. His backwards skating is also a real strength, and it allows him to have a little bit more wiggle room in his game—that is, if he makes a more aggressive play and it ends up being a mistake, and he needs to turn around quickly and get back to defend. He recovers well and is well equipped to erase those mistakes with his rush defense. And all of this is working quite well for him, and it’s a good thing, because Edvinsson has a real willingness and comfort to be the one to break the puck out of the defensive zone himself and lead the rush himself.
There are some smaller nitpicks we could make about his game—his shot isn’t really anything to write home about, and he could still stand to bulk up a bit more he’s 6’4” but just 198 pounds—but the big concern when it comes to Edvinsson really boils down to his hockey IQ. His physical tools are undeniable, and they’ve allowed him to flash some really stellar playmaking looks. But that’s the thing—it’s just been in flashes. Because, yes, there have been some really strong positives from his season and from his game, but we’ve also seen him make some lapses that are concerning. He can lack decisiveness, holding onto the puck for too long when a play was already available, or conversely, he can try to do too much or be too aggressive and then get himself into trouble when a play blows up on him.
Would He Fit In With The Wild?
Edvinsson would certainly be the tallest defenseman on the blue line, but with the amount of indecisiveness he sometimes possesses with the puck would not be the kind of hockey we’re used to in Minnesota. Certainly every skater in the current Wild top-four is just extremely calm with possession and has some top-tier awareness for where their teammates and the opposition is on the ice.
The tall Swede is still young and will develop, but as he plays right now, I feel like it would be an uncommon player to see on the Minnesota blue line.
Could The Wild Get Him?
Honestly, Edvinsson isn’t the type of player that just falls. Despite his ranking being all over the place and mock drafts having him wherever the writer’s personal preference lies, he’s a Big Hockey Player, so if anything, he’s going to be taken earlier than projected. Hell, he might be a surprise top-5 pick just because some team doesn’t like the way William Eklund interviewed or some shit.
Minnesota currently possess the 21st and 25th overall selections, so they are a far way off from getting hold of Edvinsson.
A Minnesota Relation
In the most polite way possible, Edvinsson’s freakish height and hint of offensive ability reminds me of Kurtis Foster, but if he remained in his mid-20’s for the rest of his career.
From 2005-07 Foster earned 51 points in 115 games. Not the most dynamic offensive blueliner, but was certainly there and ready to contribute when needed on a team that wasn’t really doing much in terms of offense. Realistically, the Wild have had a history of just solid normal-heighted defensemen have been responsible in both ends. For decades now that has been the mold that Minnesota blueliners have been cast out of. So, Foster is probably the closest — and somewhat obscure — meaningless comparison you’re going to get surrounding Edvinsson this draft season.