A trio of Detroit Red Wings prospects will impact Sweden’s fortunes at next week’s World Junior Championship in Edmonton.
The tournament will serve as a warmup for Simon Edvinsson prior to training camp, where the sixth overall pick in 2021 will compete for a spot on the Red Wings’ blue line.
Defenseman William Wallinder and forward Theodor Niederbach, second-round selections in 2020 (32nd and 51st), will return to Sweden for another season of development with Rogle BK.
The event was rescheduled from December, when it was canceled four days after it began due to COVID-19. Sweden, seeking its first gold medal since 2012, opens Wednesday against Switzerland.
“When I was a little kid, I always wanted to play in the World Junior Championship,” Edvinsson, 19, said. “I just played two games. That hunger goes a little bit more. I think that’s a good run-up to be prepared for training camp.”
The Red Wings will give Edvinsson, a big, mobile left-shooting defenseman (6-6, 205), a prime opportunity to make the team in camp and the preseason after he flourished at Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League. It will be competitive, after the signings of Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta, Mark Pysyk and Robert Hagg, who join Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek, Jake Walman, Jordan Oesterle and Gustav Lindstrom. Pysyk (Achilles surgery) is out for half the season and Walman (shoulder surgery) won’t be available at the start.
Wallinder, 20, wasn’t selected by Sweden in December, but a strong second half during his first season with Rogle apparently helped his cause.
“I got my game going, my defensive game started to work out,” Wallinder said at Red Wings development camp last month. “This season felt like everything was coming into place and all my defensive issues from the past and everything is good now.”
Wallinder (6-4, 190) was a huge fan of former Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who works with the team’s prospects, particularly the defensemen, as an assistant director of player development.
“I liked his hits,” Wallinder said. “It’s great to work with him. He’s got a lot of experience. Just to learn from him and listen to what he says. … Everything in my game, all the small details.”
Asked if he hits like Kronwall, Wallinder said, “I did when I was younger but not anymore.
“I’m a big defenseman with great skating, like to carry the puck and lead offensive play from the blue line.”
Niederbach also aims to take a step this season with Rogle after transferring from Frolunda. It’s where Seider excelled in 2020-21 and where Marco Kasper, the Red Wings’ top 2022 pick, also plays.
“Frolunda is a good club, and I learned a lot from them, but I felt I wanted to try something new,” Niederbach said. “I know Rogle is a good team. Both Wallinder and Seider had huge development there. I know that I will come to a great club.”
Niederbach (6-0, 190) was drafted as a right wing but his goal is to develop into a solid all-around center.
“I try to play good in both zones, be trustful in the D-zone but also can do something good in the O-zone,” Niederbach said.
Playing in the SHL has helped his growth.
“You’re playing against full-grown men, so it’s tough every game,” Niederbach said. “SHL is a good league. If you can play well there you have a good chance to do something good here (in the NHL).”
More: Donovan Sebrango assumes leadership role for Canadian World Junior team