News broke yesterday that Allsvenskan Forward of the Year, Victor Ejdsell, intends to sign with the Nashville Predators. This comes from a very good source in Sweden according to the renowned Expressen writer, Johan Svensson, which points to this rumor likely being true.
According to the Swedish website NWT.se, the Nashville Predators where among three teams (along with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks) that Ejdsell visited this spring. Most NHL teams have reportedly shown varying levels of interest.
A Dynamic Two-Way Center
With 64 points in 60 games in Sweden’s second tier league, Allsvenskan, Ejdsell has proven to be one of the most dynamic offensive players still in Sweden. At 6’5" 220 pounds, Ejdsell is a massive center who plays with the skill of a forward several inches shorter. His quick rise has been a bit of a surprise...
"Victor has been a pleasant surprise. He's big and strong and is very good at finding solutions to different situations, either because of his size or [skill]," says Swedish World Cup Coach Rikard Grönborg via Google Translate.
With 29 goals in 60 games you can’t deny that Ejdsell has great goal scoring ability and a skill set that allows him to make room for himself. Watching those plays above has to make you salivate as a Preds fan.
These plays epitomize Ejdsell’s skill and hockey sense. Not only that, but you can definitely see the power forward side of his game, much like a James Neal, Ryan Johansen, or Filip Forsberg. He is more than capable of making plays at high speed. In the first video he does a great job of sucking the in the opposition to make room for his teammate. He also knows when to slow the play down instead of going continuously at high speed.
In an interview with Michigan news group MLive, Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin noted Ejdsell’s improved defensive game. "He's evolved into a strong two-way center. His move from wing to center helped his defensive game. He's got good hands and offensive ability."
While all of this size and skill is fantastic it is still important to note Ejdsell did all of this in the Swedish second tier league and not the first tier league. There is no precedent for a player breaking out in Allsvenskan and making it to the NHL. Carl Soderberg provides the most similar situation, but even then he was always fairly good and was drafted in the NHL at 19. There is always a first time for everything, though!
Ultimately you have to look at the fact most teams, especially Detroit who has been very successful at drafting Swedes, showed interest in him (link). Not only that, but the Predators have taken the trouble to get him to Nashville to see a game, and the guy who brought you Viktor Arvidsson and Matthias Ekholm (Lucas Bergman) has personally seen to outlining a plan for Ejdsell. These things don’t happen for a player whom teams don’t believe can be make an impact.
Victor Ejdsell Can Make an Impact
If or when the Predators sign Ejdsell, his destination for the 2017-2018 season will have to be determined. According to Johan Svensson, Ejdsell might still want to play for HV71 in the SHL next season. This would not be the worst thing for his development, but you have to wonder if the Predators can get him to the AHL sooner rather than later.
When he does get to North America he will likely arrive with no expectations. As mentioned before, there is no precedent for a player in his situation making it to the NHL. Any NHL time would be considered a success, but his skillset makes me believe there is a small chance he can make it as a top six center. At the very least he could be a big body with skill on the third line, which is not a bad thing either.
Indirectly, Ejdsell and newly signed Emil Pettersson could have a positive impact on the development of Vladislav Kamenev and Yakov Trenin. Prior to the two signings both Russians didn’t have a ton of competition within the Predators’ center depth chart. That all changes now and this competition could very well serve as a catalyst for the two Russians’ development as that lack of breathing room within the pipeline will hopefully incite their inner survival instincts.
Youtube Video Links
The following links were used for the GIFs above: