Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Coyotes took a gamble when trading up and drafting defenseman Victor Söderström. Söderström was drafted 11th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Former General Manager John Chayka traded their original first-round pick (No. 14 overall) as well as their second-round pick (No. 45) to the Philadelphia Flyers to nab Söderström. Being a first-round selection, there is always pressure to perform well for the team that drafts you. So far, Söderström has not performed up to expectations, only playing 20 games with the Coyotes and recording two points. The 21-year-old still has plenty of potential to unlock. Let’s see how he can elevate his game.
Victor Söderström Showing Growth
Potential Still There
Söderström has recently been playing in the American Hockey League with the Tucson Roadrunners. In 43 games, he has two goals and nineteen assists for 21 points. Playing in the AHL, Söderström is getting top-pairing minutes and getting much more ice time than he would on the Coyotes. From last year to now, Söderström has looked much better. Given he is only 21 years of age, it can take some time for certain prospects to develop. During his stint of 20 games with the Coyotes across two seasons, he didn’t look like he was translating to the pace 0f the NHL very well. Due to this, the Coyotes wanted him to get more ice time with the Roadrunners.
Victor Söderström is still under the entry-level contract he signed under former General Manager John Chayka. So far, General Manager Bill Armstrong hasn’t made any move to suggest that he is ready to move on from the Swedish defenseman. With Jakob Chychrun expected to be traded at some point, Victor Söderströms role with the Coyotes has become much more critical. His ceiling is still unknown, but with the Coyotes needing a new top defenseman, he has a chance to earn that spot.
Time Is Ticking
Söderström is still relatively young at just 21 years of age. But at some point, you must see what you have in a player. So far, Söderström hasn’t shown his worth as a first-round draft pick. Playing in the AHL is surely helping his confidence and play, but can he bring that over to the NHL?
Söderström is on pace for three goals and 30 assists for 33 points in 69 games. This would surpass his season total for the previous year by a landslide, almost doubling it.
The Coyotes enter a trade deadline where a lot of pieces could be moved, including Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakob Chychrun, who both have high value. If both of those get traded, the defensive side of the prospect pool is relatively weak. Only consisting of the likes of Maveric Lamoureux, Artyom Duda and Söderström. With next year potentially being his year in the NHL, he needs to finish this year off strong to earn a roster spot next year.
Victor Söderström Future Outlook & Conclusion
If Söderström can continue to progress and stay consistent, he has a real shot at the NHL next year. With Söderström turning 22 years old in the coming weeks, that’ll put him as a borderline prospect. With play and age issues at hand, if Söderström can finish the season with the Roadrunners strong, then a roster spot is very likely.
Söderström has a lot of potential if can use his hockey IQ and elusiveness to his advantage. If he does, he can thrive in the NHL. Assuming he stays in the AHL for the rest of the season, he will then have one full year with Tucson. With him getting older, he should have his shot at the NHL soon, so let’s hope we see him on the Coyotes’ roster next year.