Söderberg ready to lead Sweden in WJC

By Johan Nilsson

Untitled Document

Last season Carl Söderberg started out playing for Malmö’s U20
team in the Swedish Elite League. It did not take many rounds for others to see that
the young 6’3 center was on an entirely different level than the rest of the players in the league. After having scored 39 points in 22 games in the juniors, he finally received quality ice time in the SEL in early January and
made an impression right away. In Malmö’s 3-2 win over Leksand on January 4, Söderberg had an assist and scored the game winner in overtime, which was enough for the newspapers to start writing stories about Malmö’s ‘new star’. Söderberg did in fact not score more points than those two that season, but
dressed on 24 occasions and stood out in several of those games.

The big surprise last season was the fact that Sweden’s U20 coach Torgny Bendelin left Söderberg off the WJC team. Söderberg would probably have stepped in as the
No. 2 center behind Alexander Steen, but Bendelin claimed in an interview that he had not been impressed by what he had seen from Söderberg. Ironically, Söderberg was excellent in an international U19 tournament for which he was selected to play by Bendelin only a month after the
WJC. The omission will be recitified this upcoming WJC.

Going into the NHL Entry Draft this past summer, Söderberg as expected he went in the second round. St. Louis Blues selected him 49th overall and in the seventh round the team also picked up the
rights for big winger David Fredriksson, who is likely to be Söderberg’s linemate in the WJC this season.

2004-05 season

Söderberg’s team, Malmö, signed a few interesting players during offseason and the team had pretty high hopes entering the new season after having a poor 2003-04 campaign. But due to the lockout and the other teams becoming vastly improved by
NHLers, while Malmö’s financial situation was questionable, the team is once again struggling and currently in last place in the
SEL. Malmö’s poor play has reflected upon Carl Söderberg who has not had the consistency of playing on one specific line. Some games he has seen top line ice time, while other games seen limited ice time on the fourth line. Although he has hardly been spectacular this season in the elite league, he has picked up 4 assists in 18 games and
had excelled in shorthanded situations where he has received quite a bit of ice time.

No prospect in Sweden today is as dominant as the 19-year-old Söderberg when he is on fire. He showed that last season in the juniors and is showcasing the same kind of explosiveness this season with Mörrum in the Swedish second tier league. Due to the fact that his ice time in Malmö is inconsistent, he gets match training playing for Mörrum, a below-average team in the second highest division in Sweden. There are few players that can touch Söderberg there when it comes to pure skill and whenever he has the puck under control he does something creative with it.

Many think that Söderberg is more of a sniper than a playmaker, but then they have probably not seen him direct a
power play. He has excellent vision and delivers passes that most would only dream about. Furthermore Söderberg’s technical skills are above average and a trademark of his is smoothly stickhandling through center ice and into the offensive zone, and then around the goalies net to look for a good pass. Without the puck Söderberg looks like a rather average skater, but when he has the control of the puck things appear to go much faster and in combination with his hockey sense in technical skills. even the most mobile defensemen have a tough time keeping up with him.

You rarely see Söderberg play the body, which in one way is not surprising since he is so often in control of the puck. But for a player
who appears to have a great deal of upper body strength, it would only make him more successful when forechecking and fighting for the puck. Defensively, Söderberg is
now complete. Two years ago some said he was one-dimensional, but now he is pretty much as sound in his own end as he is effective in the offensive end.

Hopefully Söderberg will be given quality ice time in Malmö this season and it would be reasonable to expect him to stand at 10 points when the regular season is completed. He will be a key player for Sweden in the World Junior Championships and despite players like Loui Eriksson, Johannes Salmonsson and Robert Nilsson on the
squad, Söderberg could end up being the most important piece of the puzzle being the top center. The term
‘can’t miss prospect’ is commonly and perhaps even too commonly used when describing potential stars. Söderberg does however, fall
into that category. He has the potential to become a top line center and at very worst he will be a very capable third, fourth line role player and penalty killer. The most realistic scenario is probably that he will become something in
between, a second line two-way center that be used in all game situations.

2000-2001Malmö J18J18 Allsvenskan 31120
 SkåneTV-Pucken 81232
2001-2002Malmö J20SuperElit 40222
 Malmö J18J18 Allsvenskan 139202918
2002-2003Malmö J20SuperElit 2817183522
 Malmö J18J18 Allsvenskan 463925
 Team Sweden U18WJC-18 62024
2003-2004MalmöSEL 241128
 Malmö J20SuperElit 2723254830
2004-2005MalmöSEL 180444
 Malmö J20SuperElit 10112
 MörrumSwe-2 52460