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2019 Draft Countdown No. 11: Victor Söderström

Do you believe in love at first sight? I didn’t, until I saw Victor Söderström play hockey, the 5’11” right shot defenceman immediately had traits that popped off the laptop screen as I streamed SHL games. There was improvement from game one to 44 for Söderström as he competed in the competitive Swedish Hockey League this year. Söderström, smart, smooth, skilled and one heck of a two-way defender with offensive zone awareness that is off the charts.

Let’s talk about my guy, Victor Söderström.


Information and statistics provided by Eliteprospects.com

So maybe I’ve been a little lovestruck from his game, just check my Twitter feed…

I truly believe he translates to the being a top pairing defenceman, the type of guy you want paired with a Thomas Chabot, Quinn Hughes or Morgan Reilly type left shot defenceman. Söderström is not your typical number one, but he is the guy to play with a number one defenceman.

There are a few skills that immediately shine when you watch Söderström play, all the scouts are saying very similar things about Söderström’s game.

Söderström is a great puck mover, showing high-end IQ moving the puck and ice in his veins under pressure. Despite his size, he’s a good defender. He closes gaps very well due to his IQ, using his body and stick to break up pucks, and makes a lot of stops.
-Corey Pronman, TheAthletic

A puck-moving and fast-paced blueliner who loves to create offence. Enjoys controlling the pace of play. Quick outlets, sharp edges and nice vision. Could use more power on his shot. Maybe not as high an offensive ceiling as some other blueliners in this group, but has a very high floor.
-Cam Robinson, DobberProspects

Smart two way D. He can move his feet and the puck well and defend well. He has a good mind of what’s going on what is going to happen. He’s elusive. Great passer. Can play both PK and PP. His shot could get better though. Unsure if he has elite NHL offensive skill from the point but a good bet for a top 4 maybe even a top paid D.
Jimmy Hamrin, McKeensHockey

Victor Söderström began his season with Brynäs’ junior team in the Superelit league, he player 14 games in the Superelit, putting up 8 points in 14 games before he was added to the big squad in the SHL. Söderström was used as a bottom pairing defenceman for the first 20 games of the season, in those first 20 game Söderström averaged 15:15 of ice time and was able to put up one goal and two assists with Brynäs.

After the first 20 games the team looked to use Söderström more, in his final 24 games Söderström averaged 18:40 of ice time and was able to score three goals down the stretch run. Söderström was able to stay competitive against his opponents even though Brynäs was one of the worst teams in the SHL this season with a record of 17-2-14-19.

(Points are awarded for each game, where three points are awarded for winning in regulation time, two points for winning in overtime or shootout, one point for losing in overtime or shootout, and zero points for losing in regulation time)

Every NHL team is looking for smart players and that is what Söderström’s biggest strength is. When I talk about smarts the biggest thing that sticks out about Victor Söderström is his ability to rotate in the offensive zone. Söderström seems to not only know which pass is about to be made but at times is able to realize the pass that is about to come as well. He thinks with that “one extra pass” mentality.

Controlling the puck and walking the line is something he has shown at other levels of play but was not given a ton of opportunities to be able to be the powerplay quarterback at the SHL level. Söderström does a good job of getting pucks on net, he has a strong but not elite slapshot and can fire an above average wrist shot from the point that finds it’s way on net consistently.

The wrist shot is accurate and at this point of the season Söderström was just beginning to get some powerplay time on the second unit.

If an NHL team is looking to add a puck-moving defencemen to their group they should look no further than Söderström, his ability to perform a quick deke while on the point to open up a shooting lane is elite when he is playing with his age group, making defenders look silly while quickly stick handling his way into the slot. He loves the one-time slapshot from the left side of the ice or on the top of the umbrella on the powerplay, which would be a nice little addition to any team’s arsenal of powerplay contributors.

The stats may not look great for Söderström, (4 goals and 3 assists in 44 games) but the fact that he played this season in one of the top leagues in the world shows that he has a mature game for a guy who was 17 years old when the SHL season began. His ability to handle the puck really showed when he was playing at the U18’s before being injured.

Fun Fact: Victor Söderström played 44 more games than Philip Broberg at the SHL level.


Shoutout to YouTuber bigwhite06 for this clip.

His passing is impressive as well as we need to remember that the SHL ice is quite a bit bigger than the North American rinks, Söderström has great vision and can pass the puck with a ton of zip.

Something that needs to be mentioned about Söderström is how active his head is on the ice, he is constantly surveying the ice looking for the right play with the puck and when he is without the puck he is looking around for open to get the puck.

There’s a lot of good but there are a few defensive deficiencies in his game too, he does get beat around the corner by faster stronger wingers at time and can lose his man when battling a bigger, more experienced player in front of the net.

At times Söderström‘s inexperience does come to show, he is very much a two way defenceman when he is playing against players his age at the U18s but in the SHL he is at times outmatched physically and loses a lot of stick battles at this level. He is definitely a lot more effective in the defensive zone when comparing him to a similar Swedish defenceman like Adam Boqvist but being 17 years old and playing against some of the best of the rest in the world can make him look silly at times.

Example:

I spoke with Jimmy Hamrin of McKeen’s hockey two months ago on episode 21 of the “Canucks Conversaton”, he let me know that he believed the smarts in Söderström‘s game was the main reason why he thinks that Söderström will make a strong impact on an NHL team. He compared Boqvist and Söderström’s offensive awareness but said that Söderström is a lot more of a sound defender and that’s why Söderström got more opportunities in the SHL. He also said that without a doubt he believes Söderström is the better prospect when I asked him who he prefers between Phillip Broberg and Victor Söderström.

There are times where he shows some good defensive plays as well, Söderström does a great job of tying up the opposing player’s stick on this play and is able to keep the puck out of the net.

Being a right shot defenceman is obviously a good thing in this draft as there are not too many if any other players that show up in most scouts top 15 rankings, for that reason we could possibly see Söderström as high as eighth overall to the Edmonton Oilers and the odds of him dropping out of the top 20 are very unlikely.

When you draft Victor Söderström you are getting a player who is at worst going to be a top four defenceman and at best can be the guy to play along side a left handed number one. His offensive ability makes be believe that he could be an option for a team to have as a powerplay quarterback, maybe not an absolute number one like Brent Burns or John Carlson but he should be able to run a powerplay efficiently as a second unit quarterback.

Oh, and he doesn’t mind throwing the body around, not bad for a kid who was 17 years old at the time and only in his 18th game of the SHL season, that’s 18 more games played than Philip Broberg in the SHL.

Some would argue that Söderström does not have a ceiling as high as some prospects but I think that’s an old way of looking at the game. Söderström is the type of player who understands the ice and how to rotate in the offensive zone. He has played against men and after another year of playing in the SHL I would predict that he will be over in North America pushing to make an NHL team.

It should be added that Söderström is likely one or two years away from jumping into the North American game, but when he arrives I’d expect his raw talent to be groomed nicely for his debut on this side of the pond. Let’s not forget, he makes the cut on the famous 51% CanucksArmy rule with his 0.16 PPG.

 

So what do you think, is Victor Söderström a top 10 talent?
Does he sit in your 10-15 range or is he outside your ideal top 15?

As we close out, here’s Victor Söderström winning the game for Brynäs in a shootout.

  • I’ve been debating this with a co-worker for the better part of the last 8 weeks. I’m sold that he is exactly what we need on the back end. Could we pick a scoring winger to help out? – sure we could. But I feel having a solid d is essential and he would be a great addition to some of our our guys on the back end. Great article and I fully support using our pick at 10 for Soderstrom. If not Soderstrom – go for a winger.

  • “When you draft Victor Söderström you are getting a player who is at worst going to be a top four defenceman and at best can be the guy to play along side a left handed number one.”

    That seems a bit optimistic for a player ranked around 12-15 on most draft rankings. There are no sure bets in the NHL draft.

    Soderstrom still seems a bit of a reach to me, and I’m afraid of him becoming another Juolevi, with Benning drafting for positional need when better forward players are available. The Canucks are in bad need of goal scorers, too.

    • It’s not unreasonable for a mid-round 1st to be Top 4, possible top pairing. Chabot (#18, 2015), McAvoy (#14, 2016) and Brannstrom (#15, 2017) all project as top pairing guys now. In each case, there were several defencemen taken ahead of those players too. You might be adding Dobson (#12, 2018) to the list in a few years. Heck, Karlsson (#15, 2008) was the 7th defenceman taken in 2008, behind Luke Schenn (#5) and Colten Teubert (#13).

      • All I’m saying is there are no guarantees. For every defenseman who becomes an all-star, many more wash out of the league if they make it at all.

        • Lots of forwards have also washed from the first round. With the exception of a couple of the very top picks, most need further development. If the development goes as hoped they are impactful NHL players, if not…

        • Based on the scouting report, I think Soderstrom at #10 is also a reach. But the fact that he’s played decent middle pairing minutes in the SHL bodes very well, something that Juolevi did not do. That said, I don’t think Juolevi has developed that poorly, based on his stats. If not for injury, he has done quite well in the PPG department in the OHL, Liiga, and AHL. I think he’ll end up like Edler – injury-prone but a decent big Top 4 all-round guy who will be with the team for the bulk of his career.

  • The NHL combine official weigh in has Soderstom at 6 feet so he my have grown a bit since the start of the season.

    My question is, if he is drafted how far off is he from the NHL. I’m curious if this is a factor for the Canucks. The current trend is to have guys sign after an their draft +1 year so could Soderstom potentially fit this pattern.

  • Bank on it. Canucks are taking him at 10, and in 2020 he’ll be partnered with Hughes. And there is your #1 defensive pairing for the next 10 years.

  • The Canucks right D depth is very weak. Only one true prospect, Jett Woo. While I subscribe to the theory of drafting BPA, if not Soderstrom, the team will need to trade for a young RHD which as we know can be rare indeed.

  • I really like it when people describe a player as intelligent. We are seeing this with Soderstrom, Boldy and (I think) Krebs. That can make such a difference at the NHL level. I get the impression that most fans believe we should draft one of the forwards, but, as has been pointed out, Soderstrom (assuming he pans out) could make a big difference to our defence. Whoever we pick, I think there will be considerable risk. All these players have issues to deal with.

    One thing I’m not getting a sense of from the write-up is how Soderstrom would fare in a high speed game. He looks very agile on his blades, but could he keep up when the pace of the game hits overdrive?

  • So, you cut and pasted Söderström from a different document so you wouldn’t have to figure out how to put the umlauts in, and you forgot to reset the text formatting?

    For Shame!

  • This will come down to how the Canucks rate Soderstrom as compared to the forwards. In my opinion, a middle pairing D has more value than a second line winger. If Soderstrom is projected to be a middle pairing d man with the possibility of being a top pairing d man, then he has more value than a winger projected to be a second line winger with the possibility of being a first line winger. A top line winger has more value than a second pair d man. The Canucks desperately need d and scoring. They need to take the best player available, but it is easier to find wingers than d.

  • This is why I’ve been dying to see Benning make a big move and get inside the top 15. This year. Previously I was hoping he could put together a package to land Bouchard or Dobson. It’s unfortunate that Tanev’s stock has dropped to the point I think that ship has sailed. Having one of these 3 RHD in the system would be such a huge difference in the rebuild

    I Just hope Benning goes after the best player possible. The Canucks need everything, even if it’s RHD more than others. They clearly need a ton of upgrades on the wing also. Get the best player. I’m actually hoping its one of the USHL guys. I haven’t seen much of the prospects play but I like what I’ve seen from that bunch

  • As little as this fan knows about it Soderstrom at #10 seems like a bit of a stretch unless Benning is hellbent on drafting by position only. Would rather have a forward and preferably a big one but no matter how you slice it this year’s first round pick is unlikely to take any veteran forward’s or defenceman’s in 19-20. Would be nice if they could though.

  • This Söderström kid is good, two umlauts good, but Broberg is the better pick. Look at what Edler has meant to this team for so long. Broberg, not Söderström, is the guy we need in a couple years if we want to evolve into a perennial playoff team with the ability to go deep. Saw Pietrangelo lead and impose his will tonight in game 4. Big man, big minutes, strong, assertive. That’s what you’re betting on with Broberg. Respect to the Söderström fans.

      • Soderstrom has also been projected as a number 4, where two players are considered equal I would pick the one with a bit more size. In the playoffs and over a long season the smaller players are targeted and worn down with the constant bashing mid ice and along the boards.
        With the smaller defenders they are constantly targeted for the big hit from wingers behind the net.

        • My main concern with Broberg is that he is only where he is because of his size. Scouting reports have indicated that Borberg gets worse rather than better when facing better competition. He keeps trying and failing to apply what worked against junior competition. Inability to adapt and excel + repeating the same mistakes = low hockey IQ.

      • At 17 years old, it’s a stretch to call Broberg ‘Virtanen 2.0’, whatever exactly that means. The Pietrangelo note was to highlight the concept of ‘big man vs. average size’ with a focus on durability and utility ‘deep’ in the playoffs. That’s the kind of player I’d prefer to pick. It’s gonna be interesting for sure, whatever happens.

          • Irrespective of the comparison of Soderstrom and Broberg, I’ve yet to see anywhere that Broberg lacks hockey sense. Source CV, F1915?

          • Since CA tends to fail when I try to post multiple links (usually resulting in me losing my entire post), I’m going to reference the sources and you can quickly google them yourself:

            EliteProspects: BLOG: Broberg or Söderström? (see link in comment section)

            Broberg doesn’t, by any means, have terrible hockey sense, but it is a weakness in his offensive game. He can make the same mistake several situations in a row and will often try to do the same thing with the puck repeatedly, even when it is obvious that his opponents have figured out what he wants to do and what he is trying to accomplish…Defensively Broberg has shown good vision without the puck and can make smart reads to intercept passes but he doesn’t have the same defensive awareness as Söderström does and can be taken by surprise because he isn’t fully aware what is happening around him, which is one of the reasons his positioning while defending isn’t always on point.

            Prospect Pipeline: August 2018 scouting report

            In order to truly establish himself as an elite defensive prospect and separate himself from the pack, Broberg will need to improve upon his hockey sense. At this time, his sense is strong offensively, showing an understanding of when to move the puck up ice with a pass and when it is safe to rush the puck himself.

            However, defensively, Broberg can be found chasing the puck and leaving himself out of position at times. If he can evolve to play a calm and composed defensive game along with his aggressive offensive style, Broberg should be one of the top defencemen at next year’s draft.

            Habs Eyes on the Prize: 2019 NHL Draft prospect profile: Philip Broberg is finding things aren’t as easy for him as they once were

            Even though EOTP says Broberg has high hockey IQ, I treat the following as a red flag:His lack of solid positioning could be covered by his skating last year, but against some of the better players in Sweden it was one flaw that at times stood out….Unfortunately, professional players are often putting in a much greater effort to strip pucks from opposition players, and Broberg therefore struggles in that department even when just going up a few age classes, as was evident in the World Juniors this year…Though he has a good understanding of the game, he needs polishing in certain aspects. This year provided a lot of learning when he can play the safe option out and when to go with the high-risk, high-reward play, and not just opt for the spectacular play because he had normally seen it work in his earlier years.

            HF Boards

            Also see HFBoards, posters there have watched him more and have reservations about his hockey sense. Mostly watching him in junior tournaments and seeing him just trying to skate real fast with little creativity. Though I have not watched Broberg’s clips (since it only shows the good stuff), it makes me think of Nail Yakupov.

  • Benning went out on a limb by picking Pettersson — a smart and fast but undersized Swedish player — earlier than most draft rankings had him at a time when the Canucks had a crying need for their next elite center.

    That seemed to work out well. Thus I can easily see Benning following the same route here.

  • I’m going back and forth about drafting Soderstrom or if a winger drops in a crazy 3-10 way.
    Does GMJB get help up front or have interchangeable pieces in:
    Quinn/Jett
    Olli/Vic
    Probably won’t be disappointed either way

  • The Canucks scouting department have reached a level that suggests they are fairly competent.
    I’m excited to see their picks and listen to their evaluations afterwards.

    • Suck in that JB jockey strap Bud… breath in DEEP…. Lol.

      It is not the scouting and drafting that is the problem with GMJB. It is the developing of drafted players, the inability to capitalize on selling opportunities, the underutilization of our cap advantage and not having a cohesive plan that is the problem.

      • When hired he explicitly stated he was going to build through the draft.
        The development myth (that MacEwen recently debunked) and having zero inside information on anything that transpired isn’t credible,either.

        • It’s been five years Bud soon to be six… nothing has changed.

          St Louis turned their whole season around in January and were bottom of the league then won the Stanley Cup. You won’t live long enough to see a cup in Vancouver. you must be angry. It’s been five years Bud…

        • Sautner gave a lengthy interview recently and also had high praise for the Utica mgmt and development process.
          The process started with Green having coached many young Nux in Utica being elevated to the big club….almost 1000 nhl games, near 600 pts. And always an honest player. He is instilling that on a young trending squad, and the consistency of him having coached them in Utica creates a mgmt process called succession planning.

          I, for one, am happy with TG as head coach….tough love worked with JV and Hutty….here’s hoping for Goldy (if he makes it past July 1st). A team predicted to finish last or second last was only eliminated from the playoffs in March despite being #4 in man games lost (and most were key player injuries), a ridiculous travel sked with 4 6 game road trips (Cgy had none for example) and EF and Kypreos were suggesting Jack Adams votes if Nux made playoffs.

          I see a consistent and steady plan in place…..and a well formulated mgmt plan helps make up for individual mistakes made on player transactions.

          • Simply, Green is an AHL Coach not an NHL coach. Benning will draft the best player that is ready to step into the NHL next year. His job is dependent upon that.

  • Not saying we should or shouldn’t pick Sodertrom…I’m not a scout. But it would be nice to pick a D-man since it’s not a great crop of D this year in free agency and nice to avoid sending assets to get one in a trade. Easier to sign a free agent top-6. However, by the time he’s NHL ready next summer could be a good crop of UFA dmen and we could sign Sbiza this summer on a one year deal to gap fill haha.

  • Hughes, kacko going top 2, Turcotte and Byram both going inside the top 6 (likely top 4), dach and cozens unlikely to drop to ten and the likely hood of someone ignoring the russian factor and taking podz as PBA that leaves to other picks before us and Boldy, Zegras, Krebs and Caufield still being available as well as 3 dmen (Soderstrom, Broberg and Harley) that are possible as well as Newhook a little off board. I’m not a fan of zegras but I’d take Krebs, Caufiled and obviously Boldy over all three dmen so it’s a no to Soderstrom without even debating which of the three is best. Just for argument sake here’s my two cents on the Broberg and Soderstrom debate above;

    First there is no truly right answer here unless you have a crystal ball

    Soderstrom is by far the safest pick with most certainty to become an nhler but I cannot help but think of Jeff Tambellini every time I here “safest pick”. Soderstrom is more likely to make an impact though it’s just a pet peeve about making the “safe pick”. Soderstrom is very likely an NHL dman with a possible but not plausible ceiling of a complementary top pairing guy with the right partner but a likely ceiling of 2nd pairing and a floor of bottom pair. His defencive game is already close to NHL ready unlike most defenders at his age. Not bad I guess for a top 10 pick but in this draft there are better players available.

    Broberg is a risk, he could fail to even make the NHL but could be a true #1 dman. His game has excelled every time he has played internationally with his peers but he has looked his age when playing against men. He has a lot to improve on and one of the biggest parts of it has to do with not learning or decision making which could be a low hockey IQ or something like being over confident. In the right system he will excel and likely become at least a second pairing dman but likely more, in the wrong system he will likely become a tweener. Right pick or wrong I could truly see him being gone before 10 in the draft and I cannot say that for soderstrom and that’s not just cuz it’s been rumored that 4 teams in the top 10 likely have interest. For the Canucks I personally like Harley but Soderstrom is likely a better pick than Broberg but for most teams I’d lean towards Broberg over Soderstrom.

    • The 2nd best dman in the draft may well turn out to be Seider, and I wouldn’t blink if they drafted him at 10. Harley is really intriguing because he’s young compared to the rest of this draft but you may well be splitting hairs between Harley, Seider, and Söderström.

      • Seider is integrating and could very well end up being the second best dman from this draft class. I did not include him for two reasons; based purely on him (and york) typically being ranked below Harley/Soderstrom/Broberg and the fact that Seiders path has been different enough that it is hard to gauge where he is compared to his peers.

  • Söderström at 10 may well be the BPA, there are some solid forwards and also some with an equal amount of question marks. I’ll be nervous if we passed on Boldy or Krebs as both project to be that top-6 LW that we also desperately need, but I’d be ok if we draft him over Caufield, Newhook, even Dach.