Sweden finished third in that tournament with an 8-0 pasting over Finland in the bronze-medal game, the last chance for all 2021 draft-eligible players to show their stuff on the international stage (and on an NHL-size rink).
“I feel that I and the team didn’t play as well as we can as a group,” Edvinsson said recently via video conference of his team’s play at the U18. “But especially for me, it was difficult to come from the men’s league [in Sweden] and play on the smaller rink. It’s really different. But by the time of the playoffs, we had learned to adapt our game system to the rink and it went better.”
Edvinsson was among those players who proved his worth in Texas and is certain to go in the top ten of the first round of the draft on Friday. He is the complete package, from skating and passing to being physically strong, a player who can be on the ice for half a game and dominate with or without the puck.
Edvinsson was born in Onsala, a tiny city about 40 kilometres south of Gothenburg on the country’s west coast. He played for Frolunda this past season, the home team of Gothenburg that has been developing him for several seasons now. And that is where he would like to continue, regardless where in the draft he is selected.
“The plan right now is to play the whole season with Frolunda this coming year,” Edvinsson continued, stressing development as the key to his future. “I don’t know what the team that drafts me will say, but I’m pretty open. For me, I want to play for Frolunda, but we’ll see.”
Like any teenager, part of his progress is watching the best of the best, and for Edvinssson that includes a full range of players. “There are a lot of players I like to watch now – Miro Heiskanen, Victor Hedman, Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes. They’re all good in different ways that I try to bring to my own game. I try to watch as many good players as possible to improve my game.”
Of course, no list of influential players to a young Swede would be complete without the best of the best. “Nicklas Lidstrom is a legend in Sweden, and everyone knows who he is,” Edvinsson added. “He plays such an easy game. He’s strong and aggressive, and one-on-one he’s very hard to play against. That’s what I like about him. When he played, he was a leader, and that’s my goal as well.”
In the end, Edvinsson knows he has to be the best player he can be before making the leap to the NHL. That means growing physically and becoming stronger, and also becoming smarter and more experienced at the top level. In the end, that means he isn’t likely to be an NHLer in 2021/22, but whatever team does get him, if they’re patient, will be getting a stud in the Hedman mold.
“I try to be as good as possible at both ends of the ice,” Edvinsson said. “I want to build those part of my games, and when I feel I’ve done that I will go over to the NHL if a team gives me the chance.”
Oh, he’ll get his chance, but if he gets it on his terms, he’ll be better off, and so will that team.