Carl Soderberg is entering his third season with the Colorado Avalanche. His first two have been drastically different. What can we expect in 2017-18?
Possibly the biggest individual disappointment for the Colorado Avalanche last season was the play of Carl Soderberg. After an encouraging debut season with the Avs, Soderberg’s play completely fell off last year. With a younger and deeper pool of forwards prepared to make the Avs roster in 2017-18, what type of production can the team expect from the big Swede?
Carl Soderberg joined the Colorado Avalanche in a trade from the Boston Bruins the day before Ryan O’Reilly was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in June, 2015. Several days later, Soderberg signed a five year contract, ostensibly to replace the production of the departed O’Reilly. For a while, it seemed like Carl could do just that.
Carl Soderberg led the Avalanche with 39 assists in his first season with the team; more than Landeskog, MacKinnon, or Duchene. He was also one of only three forwards to play all 82 games. Soderberg’s 51 points ranked fourth on the team, behind only the three aforementioned core players. Even more encouragingly, Soderberg and Landeskog displayed great chemistry together.
Soderberg’s successful 2015-16 season earned him a place on Team Sweden for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, during which he played on a line with Gabriel Landeskog. The Colorado Avalanche confidently had Soderberg penciled as their #2 center entering last year.
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What unfolded from there can best be called an unmitigated disaster. Soderberg never seemed to acclimate to Jared Bednar’s new system. His point production dropped from 51 points to a staggering 14 during the 2016-17 season, a 37 point drop in only two fewer games. The previous chemistry with Landeskog disappeared, and Soderberg looked lost for most of last season.
Soderberg’s position in the lineup also began to change, as he never seemed to gain the trust of Bednar and the coaches. By the end of the season, Soderberg was often skating on the team’s fourth line, receiving less than 10 minutes of ice time per game. Truly an amazing free fall from the previous year.
Despite his poor play, Soderberg was invited to join Team Sweden at the 2017 World Championships after the NHL season ended. He began the tournament playing with Landeskog on the team’s second line. He finished the tournament as the team’s thirteenth forward, not playing a minute in the Gold Medal victory over Canada.
So what can we expect this upcoming season? Where will Soderberg slot into Colorado’s lineup? Is he the player who led the team in assists two years ago, or is he the player who recorded 14 points last year, displaying little chemistry with any of his teammates?
Carl Soderberg will play for the Avalanche this season, but where he will slot in the lineup is very much up for debate. Suddenly, he is the oldest player on the roster, at the age of 31, as the team got younger and faster this offseason. There are a bevy of young forwards, including Tyson Jost, J.T. Compher, and A.J. Greer, who will be challenging for playing time.
Soderberg’s contract dictates that he should at least get a look as a top 6 forward at the outset of the season. However, he has little room for error with so many promising young players on the roster. If Soderberg has a slow start, it is easy to see him slide down the lineup.
Carl Soderberg will likely produce a season statistically between his first two with the Avs. Hopefully he can find a niche as a third, or fourth line center. If the Avalanche expect a repeat of his 2015-16 campaign, they will likely be disappointed. However, it is reasonable to expect Soderberg to bounce back from last year’s disastrous season.
In his tenure with the Avalanche, Soderberg has, at times, been a good passer, a good net-front presence, and responsible defensively. He has also, at times, looked slow and disengaged. Hopefully, we see more of the former, and less of the latter, in this upcoming season.