It wasn’t too long ago — May 13, 2021 to be exact — that the Chicago Blackhawks announced they had signed a sought after free agent out of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). That free agent was goaltender Arvid Söderblom.
Now, I love goaltenders. So, the Blackhawks signing a new goalie prospect made my heart sing a little, even though I knew nothing about him. The next logical step was to look up his stats (which made my heart sing louder), but you never know how a player’s game will translate from Europe to North America.
Once Söderblom hit North American ice, I very rapidly went from knowing nothing about him to wanting him to never leave the organization.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind two years and go back to Sweden.
In the 2019-20 season, Söderblom was backstopping Tingsryds AIF of HockeyAllsvenskan (think: minor league to the SHL). He played 32 games that season with a record of 16-14-0. That’s a fairly average record. Despite that, he posted a 2.38 goals against average (GAA) and a .924 save percentage (SV%). He earned himself two shutouts as well.
Not too bad, especially for a 20-year-old netminder.
Let’s bounce ahead to the 2020-21 season. Söderblom made the jump from HockeyAllsvenskan to the SHL, suiting up for Skellefteå AIK. Along with a record of 13-8-0 in 22 games, he posted a 2.03 GAA and .922 SV% with four shutouts.
He appeared in two playoff games that season, going 1-1 with a 1.54 GAA and .951 SV%.
You can see why he was a sought after free agent. Goalies are extremely hard to predict. But, when you see a young goaltender (20/21 years old) posting those numbers, you’d be silly to not pay attention.
Then came May 13, 2021 when, as we covered, he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s a two-year deal that will take him to the end of the 2022-23 season.
Ep 12: Biting, Montreal, COVID, and Penguins Sale Updateby Full Press Coverage on December 1, 2021 at 5:52 pm
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It was always assumed that he would start in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs, if for no other reason than the Blackhawks were already running with three goaltenders for the 2020-21 season who were also signed through 21-22.
And that was before they went out and acquired Marc-André Fleury.
Clearly the Blackhawks must have traded away one of their goaltenders, right?
No. They don’t do anything the correct way . . .
Instead, they sent Tom Aubrun and Cale Morris down to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. Then, they placed Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban on waivers. Both cleared.
So, here is the goalie depth written out alphabetically and easy for us all to remember (yes, even myself).
Dominic Basse (Colorado College – NCAA), Drew Commesso (Boston University – NCAA), Ivan Nalimov (Admiral Vladivostok – KHL)
Söderblom is in a three-goalie rotation with two players who have a combined 220 AHL games and 106 NHL games. He’s also five years younger than both of them. And yet, he has proven to be the best of the bunch. Now, it is still extremely early. But what’s better than some early season (potentially hot) takes?
The Rockford IceHogs have played six games so far in the 2021-22 season. They have two wins.
Both of them belong to Arvid Söderblom.
Okay, okay. Anyone can luck into a win (or two), right?
Sure, I’d agree with that. But his two wins were all about him — his focus and his composure. The only luck involved here is he’s probably lucky his body didn’t shut down in exhaustion. And maybe a little help from his red, metal friends – the goal posts.
Malcolm Subban has appeared in two games. He has a record of 0-2-0 with a 4.57 GAA and .842 SV%.
October 15 vs Grand Rapids Griffins
Final Score: 6-1 (Loss)
Subban made 18 saves on 24 shots (.750 SV%)
October 28 vs Texas Stars
Final Score: 4-1 (Loss)
Subban made 30 saves on 33 shots (.909 SV%)
Collin Delia has appeared in one game. He has a record of 0-1-0 with a 5.02 GAA and .839 SV%.
October 23 vs Iowa Wild
Final Score: 5-2 (Loss)
Delia made 26 saves on 31 shots (.839 SV%)
Now, I am going to warn you that the numbers ahead are rather shocking. I’m just putting this warning here so your eyes don’t fall out of your head like mine almost did while I was watching.
Arvid Söderblom has appeared in three games. He has a record of 2-1-0 with a 4.00 GAA and .917 SV%.
October 16 vs Chicago Wolves
Final Score: 5-3 (Win)
Söderblom made 40 saves on 43 shots (.930 SV%) – IN HIS AHL DEBUT!!!!
October 22 vs Iowa Wild
Final Score: 6-3 (Loss)
Söderblom made 47 saves on 53 shots (.887 SV%) in his second ever AHL game.
October 30 vs Texas Stars
Final Score: 4-3 (Win)
Söderblom made 45 saves on 48 shots (.938 SV%)
Are you sensing a trend here? Söderblom has faced 40+ shots in all three of his AHL starts. I sure hope he’s having fun!
He’s proven that he can stop pucks. It just so happens that having a goaltender that can stop pucks, especially one that makes timely saves instead of giving up momentum-killing goals, is incredibly important to the success of any team. If Söderblom had been slightly off his game in either of his wins, the IceHogs could be looking at a record of 1-5-0 or still searching for their first win of the season (like their big brothers in the NHL were until this week).
Do I expect Delia and Subban to have bad performances all season long? Of course not. It’s been a tough start to the season for the Hogs. The goal scoring was hard to come by, and spotty at best. They’ve gotten severely outshot in a lot of their games. That doesn’t spell out great things for the guys in Rockford’s blue paint. The offense needs to get better, and they’ve had flashes of looking better.
Sure, you can’t win games if you don’t score goals. But, you can score as many goals as you want and you still won’t get wins without the types of performances Söderblom has put in for the IceHogs. And he just makes it look so effortless, even while facing 40+ shots per night.
That is why I am confident in naming Söderblom the MVP of the Rockford IceHogs – six games into the season.
The Rockford IceHogs open up their home schedule this weekend against the Grand Rapids Griffins and Manitoba Moose (The Esoom, if you will. If you know, you know). I look forward to watching him live instead of behind a screen and providing better insight into what really makes him stand out. Stats are great and they tell us a lot, but nothing beats combining the stats with in-game observations.
Now that we are allowed back at the BMO Harris Bank Center, you can look forward to a lot more insights and opinions about Söderblom and the rest of the Rockford IceHogs roster. I hope you’re as excited as I am.