Scouting Report: Elias Salomonsson

Photo Credit: Jörgen Bergkvist / Skellefteå AIK

Elias Salomonsson is an offensive defenceman from Skellefteå, Sweden who was born in August 2004. Style wise, Salomonsson draw comparisons to the NHL defenseman John Klingberg. Similar to Klingberg, Salomonsson is an excellent skater with good four-way manoeuvrability. Combined with his puck-skills, this makes Salomonsson a trustworthy puck-mover that creates space for himself and his teammates. At his best, he can single-handedly transit the puck from one zone to another. In the offensive zone, he is a constant threat with his heavy shot and playmaking ability. Salomonsson shares the defensive struggles with a young John Klingberg. If these are addressed, Salomonsson has the tools to become an NHL regular where he can contribute offensively from the blueline.

After being the first 2004-born player to debut in the SHL, and while co-captaining the Swedish team at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup 2021, Salomonsson entered the 2021-22 season with lofty expectations. Many draft boards had him noted at the outside looking in at a top 10 pick in draft. Some of us, including myself, then banked on a scenario where his defensive flaws would fade away with time. Halfway through the 2021-22 season, he still struggles with decision making and passivity in the defensive zone at times. This has rendered a debate whether Salomonsson is first-round bound or not. Either way, he remains a sublime talent that could grow into a world-class defenceman if his development is allowed to take the time required.

Date of BirthAugust 31, 2004
Place of BirthSkellefteå, Sweden
PositionD
ShootsRight
Height6’1″
Weight172 lbs
FCHockey Draft Ranking#19 (December 2021)
NHL Draft ELigibility2022

Offence

Elias Salomonsson is at his best during offensive transition where he uses his skating to carry the puck up ice. Starting already behind his own net, he has the ability to take a few quick strides to distance himself from a forechecker. Whether he distributes the puck or transports it on his stick, his manoeuvrability is an asset during offensive rushes. Sometime though, Salomonsson plays with too tight margins which could be costly. His decision-making under pressure is a work in progress.

Salomonsson uses his mobility to be a constant threat in the offensive zone. He is a gifted playmaker that operates from the blueline, always ready to display his heavy one-time slapshot and sneaky wrister. His shot is made particularly dangerous thanks to his ability to penetrate traffic with the pucks. While doing so, he is much aided by his mobility sideways. He moves effortlessly along the blueline and coordinates his stickwork well to open shooting lanes.

Salomonsson’s shot demands respect from opponents and opens passing lanes in the offensive zone. Elias is quick to take advantage of this by deceiving defenders that commit to a shot block early. He frequently initiates a shooting movement to delude opponents into thinking that a shot is coming. Salomonsson then delivers a pass to a player in a better position than himself. As in many other instances over the ice, Salomonsson uses his skating as a tool to open passing lanes. If the opportunity arises, he is quick to skate the puck towards the net. This creates disorder in any defence, and he can take advantage of the passing lanes that open or take the puck to the net. Salomonsson sometimes transports the puck all the way around the net to distribute the puck from the goal line. Altogether, Salomonsson’s fine hockey sense and splendid skating ability makes him an effective passer in the offensive zone.

Defence

When the opposition starts a counterattack from their defensive zone, Salomonsson uses his skating as an effective defensive tool. His directional shifts from forward to reverse is fantastic, a department where he sits among the top defensemen of the 2022 NHL draft class. He skates backwards at a high speed and moves effortlessly laterally. This buys Salomonsson time in a defensive situation, though he can sometimes miss a beat when it comes to gap control. He could also struggle with his timing in a more complex defence as opposed to a one-on-one situation., i.e., odd man rushes. When picking a position for defence, during an oncoming transition and in his own zone, Salomonsson needs to be more decisive to take the next step in his career.

Salomonsson’s lack of assertiveness leads us into another defensive aspect with improvement potential. He will have to be more emphatic before engaging in the puck-battles. He tends to hesitate a split second too much deciding whether he should be aggressive or not in the corners. When he manages to accurately time his checks, Salomonsson is strong in physical altercations. With his 6’1″ frame, he is robust while gaining position in front of his own net, as well as in the trenches and the corners. In close-contact battles, he is helped by his fine edgework to keep his balance.

Salomonsson often uses a constructive play to exit the defensive zone. Though this can lead to smooth transitions, he will need to improve his decision making in these situations to decrease the number of turnovers. He occasionally looks overly casual with the puck on his stick in high-danger areas. Improved assertiveness while taking crucial decision in the defensive zone will be a key area for Salomonsson’s overall development.

Projection

Salomonsson has a high ceiling with his excellent puck-moving ability and playmaking skills. His tool kit offensively is on par with the best defensemen in the draft. Though a lot has been made about his defensive struggles, it will be important to let Salomonsson further develop his top qualities. It would be so easy to ensnare his creative talent with harsh restrictions.

Salomonsson’s overall development will probably take longer time than we previously thought. At this point of the season (January 2022), he looks like a player that will require some grooming by the team that drafts him. Even though he could slip to the second round, Salomonsson has a grand upside for a team that is willing to be patient.

Published by Jacob Smeds

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