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Three NHL Rookies Surprised in Week 1: Soderblom, Addison and Guhle

Tony Ferrari breaks down the opening week performances of Red Wing Elmer Soderblom, Calen Addison of the Wild and Kaiden Guhle of the Canadiens.
Calen Addison

The NHL season is more than a week old in North America and there have been some standout rookies beyond the names we all expected. 

While Matty Beniers has looked great in Seattle and Jake Sanderson is already establishing himself among Ottawa’s best blueliners, there have been some unexpectedly delightful performances from first-year players around the league – perhaps to little surprise from their respective team's fan bases. 

Here are three players in particular with a notable first week:

'Lord Elmer' Soderblom Reigns in Detroit

How can you not love this story coming out of Detroit? Elmer Soderblom wasn’t expected to make the NHL lineup coming into training camp. Even after an outstanding rookie camp and being a standout in the early days of training camp, the expectation was the hulking winger would wind up in the AHL. That was until Söderblom made the best of every opportunity he was given.

Fast forward to today, Soderblom is playing on the biggest line in NHL history with Michael Rasmussen and Oskar Sundqvist, aptly named the “Treesome” by Red Wings commentator Mickey Redmond due to their towering size. The 6-foot-8 winger is incredibly skilled and has flashed some impressive puck skills in space and along the boards. 

Soderblom scored to open the Wings season, the eventual game-winner in Detroit's opening night shutout win over Montreal.

Whether he’s twirling around opponents on the boards or juggling pucks in the air on zone entries, the arrival of 'Lord Elmer' has been a fun one to watch. The Red Wings are a team that seems to be on the rise, and the third line with Soderblom leading the way will be only part of the reason opponents will hate facing the Winged Wheel.

Calen Addison Adding Value in Minnesota

The Minnesota Wild are going to need young talent to emerge over the next couple of seasons as they deal with the salary cap conundrum they’ve put themselves in. With Calen Addison’s arrival, they seem to have found themselves a top power-play quarterback and skilled puck-mover from the back end.

Addison still has work to do in his own end, and the Minnesota coaching staff will do what it needs to do to clean that up. But the young defender has taken over offensively from the back end in the team’s first three games. 

His three-assist performance Monday night against the defending Cup champion Colorado Avalanche moved him into a tie for the scoring lead among all first-year players. The young Canadian is being put in a position to succeed in the Wild lineup.

Addison has always had an element of flash and flair in his game, showcasing his offensive prowess going back to junior, but the maturation of his game offensively has been what makes him an intriguing rookie early in the season. He understands when to jump up and play showtime hockey and when to reign it in a bit.

Kaiden Guhle Stepping Up Against NHL’s Best

If you were told that Montreal would be forced to play Kaiden Guhle against Auston Matthews, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin as their primary shutdown defender, how do you think it would go? 

If you said “poorly”, you’d be sorely mistaken. He’s helped hold the trio to just one assist while he was on the ice against them. At that same time, he managed to collect two assists. Not too shabby for a 20-year-old rookie.

Guhle has played a strong two-way game, and he has been tested throughout his young career. He certainly hasn’t been perfect, but against Toronto and Pittsburgh at 5-on-5, he registered an expected-goals-for percentage (xGF) over 60 percent. 

His worst game of the young season came against fellow rebuilders in Detroit, where he struggled to a sub-15 percent xGF. Individual game expected stats are always a bit wonky, but if he can continue to post positive results as a whole, his impact will continue to be felt.

Montreal's leaning on Guhle heavily because of injuries and a focus on allowing the young talent in the system to play big minutes whether they thrive or not. 

Guhle has looked quite good early on. While some believed Montreal should have played the former Edmonton Oil Kings star at the AHL level for awhile before rushing him to the NHL, Guhle is proving more than capable against some of the league's best. 

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