In running himself out of town by means of his performance and (allegedly) his mouth, Ryan Hartman turned into a late first-round pick and the towering Victor Ejdsell. Ejdsell impressed in his NHL debut, lining up between Saad and Kane to the tune of a 51+ CF% and three shots on goal. Then he sort of disappeared in his last five, primarily between DeBrincat and Sikura. Let’s see what we can pick out in a mere six games from our newest Éric Dazé–sized center.
6 GP, 0 Goals, 1 Assist, 1 Point, -1, 0 PIM
43.3 CF% (Evens), -2.7 CF% Rel (Evens), 37.88 SCF% (5v5), 35.96 xGF% (5v5), -8.66 xGF% Rel (5v5)
60% oZ Start (Evens)
What We Said: Ejdsell comes with plus-hands . . . The big concern is whether or not he can skate enough to make any of it matter . . . The Hawks were after Ejdsell when he chose the Predators, and generally the European players they’ve been hot on tend to work out at least ok . . .
What We Got: Overall, we got a small feel for what Ejdsell might be able to provide in a sheltered role. His first two games were his best, as he managed four shots and his lone assist. After that, he disappeared completely for his next three, losing 66% of his faceoffs or more, and managing zero shots on goal. He took three shots in the very last game, then got sent down to Rockford for their playoff run.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Ejdsell’s cup of coffee was that he didn’t spend too much time playing the role of Annette Frontpresence. He’s got soft hands and good vision according to most scouting reports, and in his debut, he spent much more time in the high slot than in front of the goaltender. That’s a good thing, because by all accounts, Ejdsell’s play style is much smaller and more skilled than his frame suggests. There’s still plenty of time for Quenneville et al. to fuck that up and neuter him by cementing him in the crease because he happens to be large, but in his mini-audition, they seemed willing to let Ejdsell be Ejdsell and not Artem Anisimov.
There isn’t a ton more we can glean from his six games in terms of performance. While all of his advanced stats are downright awful, it’s over six mostly meaningless games, during which he played most of his time with DeBrincat and Sikura. More encouraging is how he’s playing in Rockford. He’s got two goals and two assists in three games, including a triple-overtime, series-sweep-clinching goal against the Wolves. Jon Fromi had some positive things to say about him:
Wasn’t bad in his own end and showed he can finish a scoring play in Game 3 [against the Wolves] . . . I haven’t seen any problems as far as him keeping up with the pace the Hogs like to play. He hasn’t looked out of place at all coming from the larger ice.
Fromi also said that the Ice Hogs are letting him play in transition, as he’s been at the front of some of the rushes. He’s also played a bit on the point during the power play with Dahlstrom, which might be encouraging.
Where We Go From Here: Given the Hawks’s makeup at center—with Toews and Schmaltz in the top two, Tommy Wingels all but guaranteed to come back, Artem Anisimov not yet traded, and our David Kampf in the background—it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of wiggle room for Ejdsell next year. But with his size and the supposed skill he’s got in his hands, there could be a spot for him somewhere in the bottom six—maybe next to Duclair and Sikura—assuming Saad, Kane, DeBrincat, and Vinnie round out the top six, as they should.
Realistically, he’ll find a home in the bottom six, making us wonder whether he’s actually two smaller hockey players underneath a trench coat sneaking into a movie they shouldn’t be at.
But you didn’t come to the Victor Ejdsell review for rational, stats-based analysis, and neither did I.
What you came for is a complete skullfuck of unbelievable and nearly impossible trades involving Ejdsell, and I’m here to give it to you.
Because the Blackhawks are running out of time with this core’s window, they’re going to make two moves to pry it back open, and they involve a ton of risk. But with the core aging and three consecutive disappointing years behind them, it’s time for Bowman to ride the snake.
The first move can come in one of three flavors, each one requiring more GENIOUS BRAIN neurons than the last to comprehend, to fill the big hole in the blue line. The second, of course, is a no-brainer. Everything that follows assumes the cap goes up to at least $80 million and that the Hawks either trade or LTIR Hossa before the draft.
1a. Package both first-round picks, Ejdsell, and Schmaltz for Calgary’s Dougie Hamilton. Throw in Rutta, and Anisimov and his 11 power play goals if you can get him to waive his NMC. According to Kent Wilson over at The Athletic, “The Flames will be looking to recoup some draft picks and find an impact right winger to solidify the attack up front. The team may be tempted to put Hamilton on the auction block to fill one or both of those needs, but that would likely turn out to be a mistake.”
Schmaltz’s 52 points and 21 goals last year might not be the high-level scoring Calgary would need to justify the trade, especially since Giordano–Hamilton is one of the best pairings in the league. Then again, Wilson pointed out that the Flames seemed to have trust issues with Dougie, using him both less than T.J. Brodie on average and rarely in higher-leverage defensive situations (penalty kill, overtime, as the sole defender on the power play). And this is a team that signed Jaromir Jagr as an offensive solution then acted surprised when he stopped giving a shit, and thought signing Michael Stone was a solution for defensive depth, so Flames GM Brad Treliving might be a moron.
2a. Sign John Tavares at $12 million. Our fearless leader, King of All Media, and overall maven already laid it out for you. If that went through, you’d have
1b. Package both first-round picks, Ejdsell, Hinostroza, and Schmaltz for Erik Karlsson, and even that might not be enough for what Ottawa would need for the best D-man in the game (Bobby Ryan would probably be involved, making this impossible for the cap). But let’s assume Pierre Dorion is a special kind of moron, and Ryan isn’t involved.
2b. Sign John Tavares at $12 million. That leaves you
1c. Package their #8 pick, Artem Anisimov, Victor Ejdsell, and Vinnie Hinostroza for Justin Faulk. The scuttlebutt is that Carolina is losing patience with with Faulk, and given Canes owner Tom Dundon’s questionable ability to properly value and compensate the people who work for him, he might be griftable. Dundon, a man with next to no professional experience in hockey, wants to play Mark Cuban, so maybe you sell him on Anisimov’s VETERAN PRESENCE and 20-goal season as a center, Vinnie’s offensive potential, and Ejdsell’s size and skillset. The problem here is Anisimov’s no-move clause doesn’t turn into a limited no-trade clause until after the draft. Maybe you get him to waive it by selling him on playing with Andrei Svechnikov, I don’t know.
2c. Sign John Tavares at $12 million. That gives you
Ejdsell may not be a gun, but maybe he can be one of the bullets that get the Hawks the top-pairing D-man they need, based on his size alone and the coinflip that is NHL GM dipshittery. Though it’s 99.9% certain none of this will happen, especially since DeBrincat would probably need to go for most of these trades to even be plausible, a boy can dream.