We have said it before and we’ll say it again: this year’s draft is a weird one. Without a consensus number one, or even a consensus top-two, players are going to come off the board at times that we may not expect. Some guys will be taken earlier, while others are going to fall further than many may expect. Simon Edvinsson very well might be one of the latter.
Ranked as high as second and as low as 11th, Edvinsson has a very interesting toolkit: strong defensively, reasonably strong offensively, good skating, and reasonable speed. However, he has some major flaws in his game that may pull him down the draft chart this year. Let’s break it all down.
Who is Simon Edvinsson?
A 2003-born player, Edvinsson is a big, big defenceman standing at 6’5″, 207 pounds, and has grown through the leagues, playing in the J-20, Allsvenskan, and the SHL this season as a 17/18-year-old. Edvinsson has played his entire career in Sweden, having not yet made the jump over to the North American game. That being said, he has had lots of success internationally, most recently putting up four points in seven games for Sweden at the World U18 tournament.
Simon Edvinsson’s on-ice production
Let’s take a look at his stat line over the last three years. For more information on all the leagues mentioned and what they mean, check out our primer here.
|2018-2019||D-2||J18 Allsvenskan||Frölunda HC J18||8||1||0||1|
|2018-2019||D-2||J18 Region||Frölunda HC J18||7||1||3||4|
|2019-2020||D-1||J18 Region||Frölunda HC J18||9||1||9||10|
|2019-2020||D-1||J18 Allsvenskan||Frölunda HC J18||10||3||7||10|
|2019-2020||D-1||J20 Nationell||Frölunda HC J20||8||0||6||6|
|2020-2021||D-0||J20 Nationell||Frölunda HC J20||14||1||5||6|
It is uncommon for a player in his draft year to play in the SHL, but he spent a good chunk of the year with Frolunda’s big club, albeit with minimal success after the J20 was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. He found the most success playing in the HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second highest professional league, where he often made it onto the scoresheet with regularity and was also effective defensively. To be playing against men as young as he was while having success with it is absolutely something that brings his stock up.
Simon Edvinsson’s strengths
Edvinsson is a jack of all trades—excelling at both the offensive as well as the defensive game. He has great vision and strong passing abilities, able to find teammates breaking out of the zone. While not always hitting the targets—which I will talk about a little later—Edvinsson typically is quite good at handling the breakout for his team.
In the offensive zone, Edvinsson has a good read of the play, able to make the right moves to pinch or retreat as needed. While his shot isn’t booming like Michael Stone, it does have decent power. However, Edvinsson typically prefers to move to the top of the circle before releasing a generally accurate and decently hard wrist or slap shot. His shot should get stronger as he continues to bulk up. You can see in this clip where he takes his shot.
Old hockey men will tell you that you can’t teach size, and Edvinsson has that in spades. Standing a massive 6’5″ tall and weighing in over 200 pounds, Edvinsson has the size and strength to make plays as needed. While initially criticised for not using his body enough, he has started being more aggressive. Check out the way that he is able to break up his play by dropping his man in the neutral zone.
He is also able to make strong defensive plays. With his strong read of the game, Edvinsson is often able to anticipate the play developing and stay in position to limit dangerous chances against. His skating ability, both his stride and his speed are top notch, allowing him to keep up with plays as they happen. Watch how he is able to read this breakout, stop it, and turn the puck back up ice for a chance.
Simon Edvinsson’s areas of improvement
Edvinsson is a very good two-way defenceman. The problem with him is his decision-making and composure. Edvinsson has a tendency to make silly passes to absolutely nobody in particular, which creates chances going the other way. And while he is strong enough defensively to handle most of those errors at this level, at the NHL level he may not be quite as lucky. This thread breaks it down effectively:
On top of that, when he has the puck and is under pressure, he has a tendency to panic, again creating turnovers the other way. For coaches this feels like an absolute nightmare. To have a player who is so strong that he is being considered a potential top-five pick but having major issues in decision making seems incredibly risky.
This feels like a confidence issue, and it seemed like it was particularly pronounced when he played in the SHL this year. However, when he was in the Allsvenskan, he seemed more sure of himself and looked much more complete as a player, both offensively and defensively. And while improvement is always good, this is an issue that will take some strong coaching and development to work out.
He is going to probably take a bit more time than players selected high in the draft, but has the tools and the size to potentially be a top pairing defenceman that can play both offence and defence very, very well.
The question is whether he is worth the risk early in the draft. Of all the players hovering around the top five, Edvinsson feels like the one who could fall, and fall far. Like Jeremie Poirier last season, who was projected to be a first-round pick but was not taken until the third round, expect Edvinsson may fall similarly (albeit not out of the first round).
Fit with the Flames
The Flames have an embarrassment of riches on the left side of their defence. At rhe NHL level, they have Mark Giordano, Noah Hanifin, Connor Mackey, Juuso Valimaki, and Oliver Kylington under team control. They also have Yan Kuznetsov, Ilya Solovyov, and Colton Poolman in Stockton, and have Jeremie Poirier in the QMJHL for one more season. That said, if Edvinsson becomes the NHL player that his potential suggests he could be, he would likely be better than almost everyone on this list.
Edvinsson could become a top pairing defenceman, and if he falls to the Flames at 12th overall, he could be the type of player that they jump on. That being said, the Flames would need to make absolutely sure that they think that they could help his confidence because if they are not able to and he turns into a bust, this could set the franchise back quite substantially.
The potential is there for Edvinsson, and with the Flames having so many lefthanded defencemen, they can afford to take their time with him to ensure he is developed properly. The team also has developed a number of lefthanded (particularly Swedish) defencemen very effectively, and may bank on that as proof that they could help Edvinsson become the player people think he can be. While there is risk, the reward is sweet.
Edvinsson is a great example of why teams do their due diligence, including talking to players and those around them before making selections. How teams view him—and more importantly whether they think he can reach his ceiling—is going to determine whether he is drafted in the top half of the draft or the bottom. It could go either way.
If a team seems his issues as potentially fixable, and feel that his skillset—which he absolutely does have—is worth the risk then absolutely he is going to be a top draft pick. For the Flames, if he is available when they make their selection, he would still carry a bit of a risk.
With a number of other prospects available in the top-15 with more complete skillsets, taking Edvinsson feels like a much bigger risk than needed in the first round. Other teams know this too. There is a real chance that he would have one of those draft experiences of waiting and waiting, but then again, there might be a team willing to take their chances—the Flames might be one of them too.
Projection: Top pairing defenceman
Featured image created with Venngage.