Red Wings sign Simon Edvinsson to contract; could compete for job next season

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Simon Edvinsson, the Red Wings' 2021 first-round draft pick, Sunday signed a three-year entry-level contract beginning with the 2022-23 season.

Edvinsson, a 19-year-old defenseman who shoots left-handed and is likely to compete for a roster position in training camp, had 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) and had a plus-13 rating in 44 games with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League this season where he was a finalist for the SHL rookie of the year award.

Simon Edvinsson, the Red Wings' 2021 first-round draft pick, Sunday signed a three-year entry-level contract beginning with the 2022-23 season.

The level Edvinsson played at this season, the confidence and dominance on the ice, was similar to the level Wings' defenseman Moritz Seider played with in Sweden last season.

All Seider did this season, in his rookie season with the Wings, is become the favorite to win the Calder Trophy (NHL rookie of the year).

The Wings are hopeful the comparisons to Seider come close.

“Simon has done extremely well,” said general manager Steve Yzerman during his midseason media conference. “He’s a different player than Moritz Seider, but he’s had a real impact for a 19-year-old in a very good league."

Edvinsson's skating and offensive ability had appeared to be ahead of his defensive game heading into the draft last summer, and this season. But while playing in the SHL against men, Edvinsson has displayed a versatile game with impressive defensive ability and a physical edge.

"He’s had a tremendous impact in the Swedish League," Yzerman said.

Edvinsson is the latest in a long line of recent Wings' draft picks out of the Frolunda hockey system.

Edvinsson was teammates on Frolunda with fellow Red Wings prospects Elmer Soderblom (2019, 159th overall), Theodor Niederbach (2020, 51st overall) and Liam Dower-Nilsson (2021, 134th overall).

Current Red Wings’ rookie forward Lucas Raymond (2020, fourth overall) and defenseman Gustav Lindstrom (2017, 38th overall) are also graduates of the Frolunda program. 

Interested fan

One recognizable face at Saturday's regular-season home finale was Al Sobotka, the former Wings' Zamboni driver, who attended the game with a friend after buying tickets.

Sobotka, 68, was terminated after 51 years with the organization after admitting to urinating Feb. 2 into one of the arena's drains that leads into a sewer designed to handle ice runoff from Zamboni machines.

Sobotka claims it was due to the medical condition benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which forces an urge to urinate.

Sobotka on Tuesday filed an age and disability discrimination lawsuit against Olympia Entertainment in Wayne County Circuit Court.

"The last time I sat in the stands was 2019 in Philadelphia (on a team trip)," Sobotka told The Detroit News. "In Detroit? Maybe early, early on at The Olympia. It's been a long time."

Sobotka has been touched by the support of fans during this entire saga.

"It's been overwhelming," Sobotka said of the positive response. "I didn't want this to go to court. They (Olympia) kind of pushed it."

Olympia Entertainment has declined comment on the matter.

Impressive professional

Danny DeKeyser was heartfelt about the emotion of playing Saturday at Little Caesars Arena, in what might have been the veteran defenseman's final home game.

DeKeyser, 32, is in the final season of his contract, can be an unrestricted free agent after the season. A return to the Wings is looking uncertain, as the Wings continue in their rebuild with younger players.

DeKeyser is from Macomb and starred at Western Michigan, and was part of the 2013 Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins team that Blashill coached.

Back surgery two years ago has limited DeKeyser and forced changes into his daily routine. But Blashill has been impressed with how DeKeyser has persevered through these two seasons.

“Over the last couple of years he’s been a great pro," Blashill said. "He’s had to fight through lots of adversity. He had the major surgery and there’s been lasting effects from that, but he’s continued to train. When you see the work that those guys have to put in and their consistency and approach in order to get themselves ready for games, it’s a great lesson for young players, and he’s provided that.”

Twitter: @tkulfan