GRAND RAPIDS -- When Elmer Soderblom first arrived in North America two summers ago, the Detroit Red Wings forward prospect knew it would take time to get comfortable with a new life on and off the ice.

The adjustment process is still ongoing for Soderblom, but the 22-year-old said he felt the game slowed down mentally throughout his 2023-24 season with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

“I feel way more comfortable,” Soderblom recently told DetroitRedWings.com. “It’s a learning process to switch from the big surface in Europe to the ice as well as the style of play here. I’m adjusting pretty well, getting better. I’m also learning to play a different type of game. It feels like it’s getting better.”

In his first full AHL regular season, Soderblom earned 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 61 games.

“Sometimes you feel you can do better, but it’s been about taking steps every day,” Soderblom said. “I’m just trying to see this season as another opportunity to improve. I’m focusing on what type of player I want to become, so just learning every day.”

The 6-foot-8, 248-pound forward also earned two points (one goal, one assist) in seven Calder Cup Playoffs games, providing a physical presence for the Griffins during their first postseason appearance since 2018-19.

Grand Rapids was eliminated from the AHL Central Division Final by the Milwaukee Admirals on Sunday, but Soderblom said he gained valuable postseason experience the past month.

“It’s a different kind of atmosphere,” Soderblom said about his first AHL postseason. “The games matter a lot. Every game is really, really big. You need to step up and bring your best performance every single night.”

Detroit selected Soderblom in the sixth round (No. 159 overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. After making the Red Wings’ 2022-23 Opening Night Roster, Soderblom tallied eight points in 21 NHL games before being assigned to Grand Rapids, where he finished the season with eight points in 20 AHL games.  

Soderblom is part of a group of talented Red Wings prospects who will compete for an NHL roster spot this fall. The Swedish forward said learning how to better utilize his size and strength will help him make a strong impression for Detroit’s coaching staff.

“It’s about using my size and the tools I have,” Soderblom said. “I want to play more physical, really using every skill I have. That will help me bring the best out of my game. If I can combine my big frame with my hands and shot, that will be huge for me. I want to be hard to play against.”