Elias Salomonsson is an interesting prospect. All the right tools are there — skating, puck-handling, decent size — and a really late birthday makes him even more intriguing. He is a very raw prospect, needing time to mature, and Skellefteå and coach Robert Ohlsson, one of the best coaches currently in SHL, might be able to do just that.
Last year, the Montreal Canadiens took a gamble on a player that played in the city of Skellefteå: Logan Mailloux. Salomonsson shares some of the same attributes on the ice, the physique and the shot as well, but also the lack of creativity. However, both players have that raw potential that NHL clubs like.
While Mailloux didn’t play at the same level, he was more calm under pressure in his draft year, and the panic that sometimes can be seen in Salomonsson’s play is one of his biggest drawbacks.
Birthplace: Skellefteå, Sweden
Date of birth: August 31, 2004
Weight: 183 lbs.
Team: Skellefteå AIK, SHL
Salomonsson started the season being one of the draft prospects to watch, but fell all through the year due to his lack of hockey IQ and clear lack of faith in his abilities. The longer the season went on, the more obvious the lack of confidence became, something that reached its peak at the World Under-18 Championship where he received a match penalty for checking from behind in the third period of the quarter-final. He was handed a one-game suspension on top of the match penalty.
Despite the struggles, some of his talent is too hard to ignore. His skating is among the best in the draft. He can turn on a dime and can recover from bad reads and bad defensive plays. His acceleration is more like that of a short-track speed skater than a hockey player. One has to wonder if too much skill and technique can be a detriment to his development as it seems to have bailed him out during his younger years, and he has put less focus on understanding the game of hockey.
Equally, he has an amazing shot. It’s right up there with the best blue-liners in this year’s draft — from a technical perspective. Once more his low hockey IQ means that it isn’t put to the best use as he fails to recognize when, and how, to use it. He doesn’t execute his plays at the same speed as the game itself, and this continues to be his biggest flaw.
When he starts a game well, he usually has a good outing and looks solid as a first round defenceman. The problem is that these games are few and far between. When he has a bad game, he looks like a player with a lot of tools who can’t figure out how to use them.
Elite Prospects: #88
Hockey Prospect: #40
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #53
NHL Central Scouting: #12 (European Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #53
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #39
It is tough to see how far the defenceman can go. It all comes down to how he can improve upon his understanding of the game. Coach Ohlsson has said you can teach hockey IQ, and we’ll see if the coach can make it work for Salomonsson. It will be a big challenge, but with the player almost a year behind some other prospects in terms of development time, one might give Salomonsson the benefit of the doubt.
The club that drafts him will look at the tools and think it can get at least a bottom-pairing blue-liner out of him. If he manages to adjust to a faster game and gains the confidence boost that could come from more opportunities in SHL where he plays the simple game, he could turn out to be a steal in the draft. Personally, I think it is a tough ask, but time is on Salomonsson’s side for another year.