The Arizona Coyotes have seen enough of Victor Söderström and have decided to send him down to the minors to further his development.
The Swedish defenseman, viewed as the team’s best prospect not already playing a role with the NHL squad, featured in two games this season.
In those two games, he played well enough but was utilized in the most sheltered role possible, with 100% of all of his starts coming in the offensive zone. Despite this sheltered deployment, Söderström earned a Corsi rating of just 46.3%.
To truly continue improving it’s clear he needs to play regular, meaningful minutes, with Söderström averaging just 13:41 while on the ice - primarily operating in a bottom-pairing role.
Taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2019 Draft, Söderström is seen as the future of the team’s defense and it’s important that the team takes their time with him and allows him to learn the North American game at a level that isn’t quite as large a jump as the one from the SHL to the NHL.
Prior to the start of the season, where Söderström would ultimately play this year was an intriguing topic up for debate, with the taxi squad being his initial destination, with the hope of him learning from the NHL coaches while playing a handful of games to give him a taste of the big league.
But the AHL is really where the right-handed shot blueliner is best served, where he could arguably earn himself top-pairing minutes and play a number of games that can help him make the adjustment.
With the Coyotes’ minor league affiliates being in-state, the organization will be able to keep a close eye on the development of their top defensive prospect and may make further judgments on him as the 2021 season progresses.
If he impresses right out of the gate with the Roadrunners, then there’s every chance he could find himself called up to the NHL roster, especially if injuries rear their head down the road.
However, if the Coyotes do not require any additional bodies, it’s likely that he will see out the year in Tucson so that he can be involved in a meaningful role, rack up plenty of appearances and grow in confidence on North American ice.
His progress in Tucson will be an interesting storyline to follow as the 2021 season rolls on, with the 2021/22 season the likely time for Söderström to make the permanent jump up to the NHL.