The 2021/22 season is fast approaching, so here at Five For Howling, we’re taking a look at this year’s Arizona Coyotes 25 best players under the age of 25.
When the Arizona Coyotes drafted Victor Söderström at 11th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, they thought they drafted a defenseman for the future. The Swedish defenseman had shown he was a highly-skilled, two-way defenseman, the type that rarely comes along.
Two years later, and Söderström is continuing to develop at his own pace. He hasn’t claimed his spot just yet, but he has continued to make strides towards becoming the defenseman the Coyotes thought he would be.
20/21 League: HockeyAllsvenskan (AIK), AHL (Roadrunners), NHL (Coyotes)
Games played: 12, 32, 4
Goals: 1, 2, 1
Assists: 5, 8, 1
World Juniors games: 5
World Juniors goals: 0
World Juniors assists: 5
Highest rating: 2
Lowest rating: 4
Last year’s rankings: 7
Söderström finally made his North American debut this past season, spending most of his time with the Tucson Roadrunners. The Coyotes had sent him back to Sweden the year prior, so the decision to keep him in the AHL last season suggests that the front office and coaching staff thought he had progressed and was ready to take the next step.
Like almost everyone on the Roadrunner’s last season, Söderström didn’t set the world on fire. He was 15th in scoring among all Roadrunners players and third among defensemen behind Kyle Capobianco and Cam Dineen.
An underwhelming season wasn’t an unexpected result. It can take time for a European player like Söderström to adjust to North American hockey’s smaller ice, affecting multiple aspects of the game.
But Söderström would get a few chances with the Coyotes during the regular season.
In January, he played two games against the Vegas Golden Knights, being held off the scoresheet for both games, and finished as a +1. Vegas is a tough team, and he didn’t get much ice time, but he would look much better in his second outing.
Söderström would get two more chances in the Coyotes’ final two games of the season against the San Jose Sharks. Söderström scored his first NHL goal in the first game and followed that up with his first NHL assist.
So far this preseason, Söderström has played in three of the Coyotes’ four preseason games, and he has a goal and an assist. He has been getting decent ice time, including 3:51 of power play time in the Coyotes game against the Anaheim Ducks.
We don’t know if Söderström has earned an NHL spot yet. He hasn’t looked out of place in the preseason, but he can improve definite areas of his game. Söderström is still young, and it is generally accepted that defensemen take longer to reach their prime than forwards, so it wouldn’t be too unusual to see Söderström sent back to the Roadrunners to start the season.
If he keeps progressing and developing, though, expect to see Söderström in a Coyotes jersey full time very soon.