What can Rangers’ fans expect from Adam Edstrom?

Fans have loved the big Swede in a small sample size, but what can they look forward to now that his NHL role appears to be expanded?
Rangers' rookie Adam Edstrom after scoring his first NHL goal on Dec. 15
Rangers' rookie Adam Edstrom after scoring his first NHL goal on Dec. 15 / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

On Tuesday, the New York Rangers announced that forward Tyler Pitlick had been placed on waivers, essentially clearing a lineup spot for 23-year-old Adam Edstrom. A 6th-round pick back in 2019 out of Sweden, Edstrom has played most of the season with Hartford in the American Hockey League. However, his solid play with the Wolf Pack has earned him two separate NHL callups.

His most notable moment came in mid-December when he scored his first career NHL goal in his debut against the Anaheim Ducks. While he was sent back to the minors immediately following the game, his solid all-around play led many fans to call for him to have an extended stint with the Blueshirts. Now that he appears to have it, what can we expect?

Who is Adam Edstrom?

While Edstrom has two NHL games under his belt, his background is still largely unknown to fans. After being drafted there was little on the internet for Rangers fans to read about the kid from Karlstad. Well, except for his size. It is not often that you find hockey players who are listed at 6’6" as 18-year-olds, but this is the crux of who Edstrom is as a player. Listed at 6’6", 207lbs at the draft, Edstrom put up 11 goals and five assists in 20 games in the J20 SuperElit (Sweden’s top amateur league) and had one assist in 15 games in the Swedish Hockey League (Sweden’s top professional league) during his draft year.  

Edstrom has steadily improved over the past few years, culminating last season, when he scored nine goals to go with ten assists in 42 games in the SHL. His 19 total points were good for sixth in the SHL amongst players 22 and younger, close behind NHL first rounders Leo Carlsson, Marco Kasper, and Filip Bystedt. Beyond growth on the ice, Edstrom literally grew, as NHL.com now lists him at 6’7"and 234 lbs. His improved play helped earn him a spot with the Wolf Pack to end their season, where he finished with one (beautiful) goal in three regular-season games and one assist in five playoff games, setting himself up to play in the AHL full-time this season. While hampered a bit by injuries this season, Edstrom’s upward trajectory has continued, netting eight goals and two assists for 10 points in 25 games with Hartford.

Adam Edstrom
Adam Edstrom during his second NHL game vs. Calgary this past Monday / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

So what can we expect?

Positionally, Edstrom is a left-shot who can play all three forward positions, offering Peter Laviolette some lineup flexibility. As for traits, he possesses effort and size with a dash of skill and speed. While Edstrom is not necessarily a “physical” player, that is not to say that he shies away from contact. His large frame makes him hard to knock off the puck or move from in front of the net and his motor is constantly running. Given that he will most likely be on a line with Jimmy Vesey (6’3) and Barclay Goodrow (6’2), the Rangers’ fourth line, while lacking in scoring punch, is at least not going to get pushed around too much.

Edstrom’s skill and skating are also impressive for someone of his size. Just check out his first AHL goal, which is linked earlier in this article. He dances around a charging defenseman and then pulls the puck back to his forehand and whips a wrister past the goalie. His surprising speed is also displayed in this play, getting ahead of the defenseman to the point where he has to overcommit to try and recover and is out of position. His goal against the Ducks was also quite impressive. After passing the puck off to Goodrow, he gets himself open in the slot where he receives a return pass and all in one motion wrists the puck against his momentum over Lukas Dostal’s blocker.

While fans cannot expect Edstrom to score goals like the two highlighted above every night, he at least has shown a ceiling that would boost the Rangers’ fourth line. He will likely have a short leash if he cannot carry his weight in the defensive zone and could get sent back down if the team makes a move at the deadline. However, if he shows defensive responsibility (he did play some short-handed minutes in the minors), Edstrom should be allowed to develop at the NHL level and help this team now. At the very least, Adam Edstrom can make Chris Drury’s eventual decision to return him to Hartford difficult, something that no one expected back in training camp.