2019 NHL Draft Preview: Victor Söderström, Swedish Defenseman

With this profile, we are bringing a conclusion to our series of 2019 NHL Draft Previews. As noted from the very beginning, they did not publish in any sort of ranked order, they were merely served up over a several week period to familiarize readers with some of the key names — and a few outliers, as well — leading into the next weekend’s festivities in Vancouver. 

Our Draft coverage has been ongoing and will continue in the days ahead. Recently, MayorsManor editor John Hoven has spoken at length on NHL Radio about what the Kings may be up to with their pair of first round selections. Click here for a free replay of his latest appearance. Also note that he will publishing his annual Kings Draft Prediction article shortly; so keep an eye out for what should be a jam-packed primer heading into Friday night.

Until then, let’s wrap up this series with a player born in Skutskär, Sweden. Victor Söderström draws many parallels to another right-shot defender from those parts;  a player with smarts and skill named Erik Karlsson. While Söderström doesn’t project to have that sort of impact – lest he’d be ranked higher – such expectations weren’t placed on Karlsson either at the same age, allowing him to fall to 15th overall. Both had pedestrian numbers at the highest level in Sweden in their draft year, as well.

Even Central Scouting had near identical rankings – for reference, Karlsson was ranked 4th among European skaters in 2008.

Despite all this, Söderström’s seven points in the SHL was recognized as the most in the league by an U18 junior player. He’s in pretty good company too, as 2018 first-round pick, Rasmus Dahlin, earned this award. Adrian Kempe shared this award with Kevin Fiala back in 2014.

While there are seven rounds to the Draft, the highest likelihood of drafting an impact is in the first. This is where scouts and management need to hammer down their list and decide on the best player available.

Once all picks are in, the next phase of this process – proper development – comes into play. This combination of drafting and cultivating of young talent is what will allow GM Rob Blake and his staff to transform the identity of the Kings organization moving ahead. 

With some of the intangibles Söderström offers, there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t fit in nicely to those plans. 

VICTOR SÖDERSTRÖM

Vitals

Date of Birth: February 26, 2001
Height: 6’0
Weight: 182 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Defense

2018-19 Season

Söderström spent his entire 2018-19 season with the Brynas IF organization, scoring seven points (4 G, 3 A) in 44 games at the highest level in Sweden. He also tallied eight points (1 G, 7 A) in 14 contests against the junior ranks.

Heavy Medal

Söderström represented Sweden in the U18 World Championships as well as the Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament, earning gold and silver medals, respectively. At the World Championship, he had one assist in four games, and he scored a goal and assist in two games at the Hlinka-Gretzky.

Incomplete

If the number of games played seems a bit peculiar, note that he suffered a concussion during the U18 tournament against Russia. He was also injured during the Hlinka Gretzky Tournament. From all indications, he is good to go moving forward though. 

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

  • 13 by The Draft Analyst, who described him as, “Söderström is an excellent puck handler with soft hands and a quick-strike mentality — he always looks for a home-run option and can make accurate stretch passes immediately upon retrieval. He also skates the puck out with speed and confidence, and he creates end-to-end rushes that can place him deep into opposing territory. What separates Söderström from almost all draft prospects is that he can read plays extremely well, and he uses his quickness and elite backskating to limit the amount of times he gets trapped. Söderström is an excellent one-on-one defender and keeps an incredibly tight gap. He communicates effectively with his teammates, who can rely on Söderström to cover the slot and only support below the goal line if the situation is critical. There are times when he backs in too much while defending against an entry, but his quick first step, fast closing speed and active stick make life otherwise difficult for opposing puck carriers. He also can play on the penalty kill and will successfully challenge bigger forwards in the low slot or crease area. Söderström is very strong on his skates and can deliver jarring hits along the boards or in open ice. The Real Deal Holyfield with immense promise.”
  • 10th by McKeen’s Hockey final rankings. They sell Söderström by saying his best qualities are his hockey smarts and his skills with the puck. McKeen’s feels a close comparison for Söderström would be Adam Boqvist, the eighth overall pick by Chicago in 2018.
  • 11th Future Considerations’ final rankings. They echo McKeen’s assessment of complimenting his hockey smarts. They see him as a two-way defender who is expected to develop into an offensive defenseman.

See For Yourself

Below is video of Söderström’s during the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Tournament, which provides a hint of the skillset he displayed at the beginning of the season.

Final Comments

The main theme of Söderström is his hockey IQ. Players who have qualities which can’t be taught almost always project better; and given his lack of size, he also packs a different x-factor to separate himself from other prospects. Back in 2008, there was another smaller defenseman with smarts and skill from Sweden the Kings looked at before making their second selection in that year’s first round. While Söderström isn’t expected to have an Erik Karlsson-like impact in the NHL, some parallels certainly add flavor to the conversation.

Söderström could be a very good grab with LA’s later first – or even a pick further down the board, if possible. He’s in that sweet spot where he might be a reach in the top ten, but could feel like a steal after the teens.

NOTE: Author David Hofreiter can be found on Twitter @Davidenkness if you’re interested in talking more hockey with him or asking further questions about this player.

RELATED CONTENT:

2019 NHL Draft Preview: Bowen Byram, WHL Defenseman

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