2021 NHL Entry Draft Profile: Simon Edvinsson

The towering Swedish defender kicks off this year’s profiles.

As with all of the 2021 NHL season, the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is riddled with uncertainty. Initially, the league set a date for the annual event a month later than normal (July 23-24), but now, Elliotte Friedman has cast some doubt on those plans:

There are several brainstorms, including moving the draft back to December or January, and one idea...two drafts in June 2022 in Montreal, several days apart. The first would be for late-2002/2003 borns, the second for the next year.

League scouts have faced myriad issues this season, including relying primarily on video scouting, prospects’ conditioning being disrupted by COVID-mandate breaks, and—in cases like the OHL—leagues not even starting a season yet.

In a perfect world, it would make sense to push the draft back or delay a year, but think of how long the ramifications of that decision will last, one way or another. Regardless, my draft coverage will move forward as usual with regular profiles of those eligible for the upcoming selection process.

Simon Edvinsson - D

Frölunda HC [SHL]/ Västerås IK [Allsvenskan]   — 17 — Onsala, Sweden

In a year where there is virtually no consensus first overall pick, Simon Edvinsson has turned heads for his Hedman-like size, offensive skills, and mature style of play. The Swedish defender is rawer than anything and is therefore unlikely to go first overall, but any team in the top-15 will be tempted by a 6’5” defender.

Edvinsson has some pedigree to his profile. He’s been a popular name in Swedish prospect circles for a few years now, including in the 2018-19 season when he was named the nation’s best defender at the U16 TV-Pucken tournament. That season, he made his U18 debut for Frölunda and continued to impress last year scoring 20 points in 19 games at the U18 level; Edvinsson added six assists in eight U20 games in the 2019-20 season too.

This season, he’s bounced around various tiers of Swedish hockey (mostly due to COVID). After 14 J20 Nationell games to start the year, Edvinsson made his professional debut, scoring one assist in 10 SHL games after the U20 circuit was shut down for the year. After being cut from Sweden’s World Junior Championship roster, Edvinsson was just recently loaned to the Allsvenskan—Sweden’s second-tier league.

Edvinsson’s Scouting Report

Smooth skater with good strike mechanics for his size; good puck protection skillsDecent at directing pucks to the net for rebounds but has an average or worse shot
Carries the puck well with his head up ice; excellent edge strength to weave up iceCaught chasing the puck at times and lose positioning between a carrier and the net
Wingspan is helpful in gap control, pushing opponents outisde & forcing turnoversInstead of relying on his stride to find superior position, can rely on his stick too much

You’ll notice a certain casual nature to Edvinsson’s game—both on and off the puck. Some have even referred to it as arrogance, but I don’t see it like that.

In the clip above, notice how Edvinsson (#3, white) takes strong crossover steps leading into an excellent backward pivot toward the puck carrier. His skating mechanics are excellent for his size and allow him to cover such large swaths of ice with ease. When he recognizes he’s cut too far to the boards, all he needs is one crossover then pivot to step to the shooter and cut off a successful scoring chance.

Sometimes, Edvinsson (#12, white) fails to read breakouts appropriately or account for multiple waves of offense. In this clip, once he recognizes the puck carrier has a step, his long skating stride needs just one pivot step and three strides to draw near even. That pivot is going to need to come much earlier at higher levels of play, but his wingspan helps push the puck away even if the opponent has closer positioning to the net.

While Edvinsson (#3, white), can make up ground quicker than most and use his long stick to disrupt plays, I’ve seen some plays at the SHL level where he’s too easily drawn out of position. I like his tenacity in playing his man—including the physicality—but once the play crosses to the far side of the net, Edvinsson’s positioning is all over the place, ultimately clearing a path to the net for the goalscorer.

Edvinsson’s game thrives most in transition. He maintains good gap control on most zone entries and excels at turning the puck quickly up the ice after forcing turnovers, as seen above.

His skating is so smooth with the puck, and he makes quick passing decisions with his head up—without sacrificing speed and edge control through the neutral zone.

In the offensive zone, Edvinsson isn’t the most dynamic shooter. If he can find himself in more high-danger areas, he’ll do it, but from the point, he’s more of a passer. The positive of his average shooting ability is he keeps shots low and generates rebound and tip opportunities well.

In Edvinsson, I see a defender who doesn’t have tons of strength and will need to add that and more decisiveness in his strides to make it as an NHL player. But if he does, and I’m certain he’s capable of it, Edvinsson can shape into an all-situations top-pair defender.

Expected Pick Range

Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) at silversevensens.com has done remarkable work compiling draft rankings and establishing an ‘Expected Pick Range’ from different public sources. You can read about his methodology here and track the compiled rankings here.

Edvinsson’s Expected Pick Range: #4 to #15 — 1st Round

In the public sphere, Edvinsson has flirted with the title of the top defender in this class here and there, but the likes of Brandt Clarke and Owen Power are a step ahead. There are drawbacks to his game, and I can understand evaluators’ concerns that his strengths won’t translate to the NHL level, but Edvinsson is undoubtedly a first-round pick. If he slips into the second half, that may not surprise me, but round two is unlikely.

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.