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.
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.
— C More Sport (@cmoresport) January 12, 2019
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.
Is Victor Söderström a top 10 pick?
— Chris Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) June 1, 2019
Is Victor Söderström a top 15 pick?
— Chris Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) June 1, 2019
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.