After the quiet off-season the Chicago Blackhawks have undergone thus far, help is going to need to come from within if the Blackhawks want to avoid another season like the 2017-18 campaign. Victor Ejdsell could play a big role — literally — in avoiding that.
Victor Ejdsell, a 6’5″ 214 pound Swedish native, came to the Blackhawks in a trade-deadline deal last year with the Nashville Predators. Before entering the NHL, Chicago — amongst various other NHL teams — tried recruiting him but he ended up signing a two-year contract with Nashville. He visited with Nashville, Chicago and Detroit before signing.
Before playing his first game with the Predators, they dealt him, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pic to Chicago in exchange for Ryan Hartman and a 2018 fifth-round pick.
Ejdsell before the NHL
Victor Ejdsell spent his playing career prior to signing with Nashville in Sweden’s second-tier league. Historically speaking, there really isn’t much history of a player breaking out in Allsvenskan and making it straight to the NHL.
That being said, Ejdsell absolutely killed it while in Allsvenskan.
Victor lead the league in points with 57 on 25 goals and 32 assists. Include the fact that he won MVP and Forward of the Year in the Swedish second league and you have an impressive player on your hands.
Here’s some highlights from his MVP 2016-17 season.
In the following season, Ejdsell totaled 34 points on 20 goals and 14 assists through 50 games. Based off statistics alone, Victor seems to have no issue scoring. He can play and finish at high speeds and uses his body to get into scoring areas.
In years past, the Blackhawks have done some deals while chasing down Stanley Cups which have resulted in them losing young, talented prospects. The Ejdsell deal was one effort in a line of many which have tried to reverse those deals.
Ejdsell in North America
Victor played just eleven regular season games between the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and the Chicago Blackhawks (six for Rockford). He tallied one assist in each league. Typically, there’s a bit of an adjustment period for Swedish players coming straight into the NHL.
It was in the AHL’s playoffs, though, that Victor Ejdsell started to show he was more than capable of producing right away.
Ejdsell scored three goals and two assists in his first five postseason games in Rockford. Those numbers are impressive for any player, especially one who’s so inexperienced in North American hockey.
The transition, however, has been far from easy.
“It’s been tough finding my way into games,” said Ejdsell to chicagoblackhawks.com Chris Wescott. “It’s different.” While different, Ejdsell put up 12 points in 13 playoff games with the IceHogs. He scored 5 goals and tallied an additional 7 assists.
His offensive talent is undoubtedly there, but the transition period is far from over.
To be successful in the NHL, you need to be able to play fast physically and make decisions quickly. Size has always been on Victor’s side, but he’s found areas to improve on.
“When you get the puck and you’re not aware of what is happening around you, they’re coming for you. It’s coming fast. You’ve got to know, if you get the puck, what you’re going to do with it. That’s also something I have to work on, being strong on the boards and stuff like that.”
Ejdsell told Wescott, “You need to have more of an (aggressive) game,” he said. “You’ve got to be more direct, crashing the net more and just be fast in your mind… You always have less time. That’s why it’s been hard for me. In the European rink, if you don’t have the time you can just be making a cutback and then you have more time. That’s not how it works here. I’ve got to keep finding my way into games. It’s getting better, and I think I’m still improving myself.”
The future with Ejdsell
Victor, a player with a tremendously high upside, came over at a fantastic price from Nashville. EJdsell has the size and raw talent to really compete at the NHL level. Question is, can he manage to fully transfer it over?
Jeremy Colliton, head coach of the Rockford IceHogs, certainly thinks so.
“He looked over there like a guy who could make a difference offensively,” said Colliton. “He’s got some outstanding offensive qualities. He’s got an excellent shot, an excellent one-timer and he’s just continued to develop.”
Sounds like somebody the Blackhawks could use. They ranked in the bottom third of the league in goals per game (21st overall) with 2.78. Translation: they’ve struggled mightily with putting the puck in the net.
If Ejdsell can bring his offensive ability to the Blackhawks offense, it’ll be a huge win for Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Additionally, on a team that hasn’t done much during the offseason, Victor could be the next player to step in and make a real difference. While he didn’t impress in his first NHL stint, the hope is that he will come this season.