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Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 for 2018: Tim Soderlund at No. 20

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Soderlund stays on the team’s radar with another solid year in Sweden.

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Canada v Sweden: Gold Medal Game - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

As the breakout star of the Chicago Blackhawks 2017 prospect camp, Tim Soderlund turned heads rapidly as they followed the speedy Swedish forward up and down the ice. Because of his abilities, his size, and has native country, he’s drawn a lot of comparisons to Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson. That’s a high bar to reach but Soderlund hasn’t done anything in the last year to remove himself from the list of Blackhawks prospects with a potential NHL future.

Key information

Position: Forward

Birth date: Jan. 23, 1998 (age 20)

Acquired via: Fourth-round pick (No. 112 overall) in 2017

Most recent stop: Skelleftea AIK — Swedish Hockey League

Size: 5’9, 163 pounds

Contract: Unsigned

Last year’s ranking: No. 18

Breakdown

The buzz around Soderlund has quieted down a bit since the 2017 prospect camp, but he still put together another solid season while playing for the same team and wearing the same number (No. 9) as the aforementioned Arvidsson (these comparisons aren’t going anywhere, folks). Soderlund had nine goals and five assists during the 2017-18 SHL season and added five points in seven games while helping Sweden earn a silver medal at the 2018 World Juniors.

Soderlund was back at prospect camp again last month and, although he may not have had quite the impact he did in 2017, there were still plenty of signs of the speed that Soderlund brings to the ice:

Patrik Bexell of SB Nation’s Montreal site Habs Eyes On The Prize caught up with Soderlund last week. Soderlund said the Blackhawks told him what he needs to work on this season.

“I need to keep working on my strengths, and work on my offensive skills,” Soderlund said.

Frölunda head coach Roger Rönnberg is pleased with Soderlund joining his club, but wants to see him improve his conditioning.

“(Soderlund is) a guy breaking all the patterns there is. He’s really good one-on-one, and we got an offensive spark in him that I think we will gain from,” Rönnberg said.

“He’s needs to improve in the off-ice area. He needs to improve his conditioning, so he can be this active player. He’s got tremendous skating, he’s a quick player but he needs better conditioning to be able to be more mobile during the shifts.

“Last year, when I saw him in Skelleftea he had like maybe two maybe three shifts every 20 minutes that was pretty good then I didn’t see him for awhile, and than he popped up. I want him there every shift.”

What’s next in 2018-19?

Soderlund heads back to Sweden for another SHL season, although it’ll be on a new team — Frölunda HC. He was traded to the Swedish powerhouse in April.

And if we draw from those comparisons to Arvidsson one more time, the season in which Arvidsson turned 21 (as Soderlund will this year) is when he broke out in Sweden, scoring 16 goals with 24 points in 50 games. That season earned Arvidsson an NHL contract and brought him to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. By the end of Arvidsson’s second season in North America, he was on the Nashville playoff roster and then erupted with a 31-goal season in 2016-17.

All of that is to say a breakout season from Soderlund this year could result in the Blackhawks handing him an NHL contract and Soderlund debuting as a professional in North America during the 2019-20 season. If nothing else, he’s certainly an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on over the next season.