“Yeah, it was pretty cool when I went there for the first time,” says Edvinsson. “You see all of those players on the wall. It was pretty cool to see. Of course, we were rebuilding and now we are going forward. I feel like the team is playing a lot better and it’s new energy every day. It’s going to be fun.”
Edvinsson is the next Swedish defenceman who Red Wings fans will come to love, perhaps right up there with the great Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall. It’s never easy to be compared to legends but Edvinsson – a key member of Sweden’s team at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton – has all the right tools for stardom.
He’s 199 cm / 6-foot-6, 95 kg / 209 pounds and is noticed for high-end skill and skating. He is a product of Frolunda Gothenburg in Sweden, the same program that developed Rasmus Dahlin. He had four points in seven games in helping lead Sweden to the gold medal at he 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship and had one goal and two assists through two games at the Covid-cut-short 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship in December.
This week, Edvinsson returns to Edmonton with one thing on his mind – bringing a gold medal to Sweden. For all of that country’s hockey dominance and strength over the years, gold medals at the World Juniors have been hard to come by, with just two in the country’s history at the event (2012 and 1981).
The first World Juniors to take place in the summer months kicked off on Tuesday in Edmonton at Rogers Place and the Swedes start the tournament on Wednesday. Some eligible players have opted to skip the event as they prepare for NHL camps and the upcoming hockey season. But Edvinsson, who was taken sixth overall by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, is all in one the revamped tournament.
“We love playing for each other and we want to win every game, what it costs doesn’t matter. If it’s a stick or a puck to the face, it doesn’t matter. We want to win as a team.”
The Swedes are expected to be at or near the top of Group B by the conclusion of the preliminary round. They’re grouped with Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. Sweden defeated Russia 6-3 and Slovakia 3-0 at the December tournament that was cancelled on 29 December due to Covid-19 outbreaks at several teams.
IIHF’s latest power rankings have the Swedes in fourth, behind Finland, Canada and top-ranked United States. Edvinsson’s work on the back end will go a long way for the Swedes if they are to push for a gold medal.
Despite his high skill level, Edvinsson describes himself as a “polite” defenceman. This writer, never having heard a player call himself that before in the sport of hockey, digs for more elaboration.
“Be calm. Play calm. I can do my stuff in the offensive zone too, I see stuff when it comes. But I don’t force anything,” he says, noting he likes to watch and pick up good habits from elite defenders like Victor Hedman and Miro Heiskanen.
“I’m a pretty good skater. I still a lot of things that I’m working on but I think that’s me as a player,” he said.
“I want to play as many minutes as possible and I want to bring so much to the team every shift that I can. Be a polite defenceman for the coach to play.”
That steadiness and reliability will be key for the Swedes as they attempt to lead Group B into the playoff round and potentially knock off Canada or the United States, who are expected to be among the contenders in Edmonton.
At the conclusion of the tournament, Edvinsson will prepare for NHL training camp in Detroit. With a young Red Wings team on the rise, there may be a spot for the towering Swede this season.
“That’s just up to me. I feel like I’m on my way,” he says. “We will see at the training camp and everything. I will do my best to take a spot.”