The Arizona Coyotes had a problem with their most recent first-round pick that most teams would love to have. After being drafted 11th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft Victor Soderstrom was good, good enough to make it through preseason. But he needs a bit more time to develop, and the team can do so by either sending him back to the SHL or the AHL.
As a draftee from the Swedish SHL league, Soderstrom was eligible to play in the AHL with the Tucson Roadrunners which would allow him to adjust to the smaller North American ice. He also could return to Europe to play with Brynas IF allowing him to continue to play in a highly competitive league, but a more comfortable and familiar environment.
Soderstrom didn’t make the decision any easier with his training camp/preseason showing. He was one of the last cuts of the team, something very impressive considering the team sent down defensemen like Kevin Bahl who are further along in their development.
When discussing sending Soderstrom back to Sweden Chayka made it clear that he believes this is best for the player and it is tough to argue that.
John Chayka echoes Rick Tocchet's @TheNattieHattie thoughts on why the team sent Victor Söderström to Sweden, rather than Tucson. It's a more comfortable environment to develop with lots of minutes and reps in an elite men's league that has a habit of developing good defensemen.— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) October 1, 2019
The chances that Soderstrom was going to make the NHL this season was extremely rare. Not just because most players don’t make the NHL after immediately being drafted, but because the Coyotes already have a pretty full blue line. The Coyotes blue line is so stacked that Ilya Lyubushkin who played 41 games with the Coyotes last in the AHL with the Roadrunners
While Soderstrom definitely can improve, as all 18 year old drift picks can, a successful preseason makes it hard to argue that improvement is limited to adjusting to the size of the ice. That is definitely a very important step for European players but it doesn’t appear to be his biggest problem. More he just needs to get better all around, and it makes sense that he can get better in a place where he is the most comfortable.
Are you disappointed by this move? Do you think Soderstrom would be better served in Tucson? How do you feel about the Coyotes drafting Soderstrom?