LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — Heading to Arizona, where the temperature presented a desert with an oasis of opportunity rather than the cold climate of Denver, Colorado, Carl Soderberg was ready for change.
The Coyotes acquired the 34-year-old forward from Colorado in exchange for Kevin Connauton back in June. They were looking to bring in not only a player who could provide much-needed offense, but add depth and a veteran presence to the locker room.
As Soderberg prepared to suit up for his third NHL team, there weren’t nerves or concerns over adjusting to a new locker room after spending four years with the Avs and finding stability — there was excitement.
“I love it,” Soderberg told Sporting News of moving around the league, smiling as he unlaced his skates. “I’ve been lucky so far with great cities, great teams. This one’s a great team as well.”
While playing for his hometown SHL club Malmo Redhawks, Soderberg — nicknamed “Yeti” throughout his career — was taken 49th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2004 NHL Draft. Instead of joining the club, he elected to stay in Europe, where he thought he’d stay through the duration of his career.
“I played for a good team. I had a good time. Playing in Sweden is pretty hard, too,” noted Soderberg. “So I thought that was what I was going to do until I retired, but suddenly I hit my peak … a little bit later than most other players, like, 30, so I wanted to try it over here, and it worked out well.”
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Just as his offensive abilities started to break through, things faltered during the 2006-07 campaign when the promising prospect took a high stick to his left eye, detaching his retina. He was sidelined for the remainder of the season and left with 80/20 vision.
“I don’t have — like one of my eyes, it’s not great. So you have to adjust, look around a little bit more, you need your linemates to talk,” Soderberg said.
Since then, he said he’s adapted to using his hearing to his advantage and fortunately, still plays the game he loves.
In 2007, Soderberg was traded to the Boston Bruins. He still remained in Sweden, but after seeing his skill improve beyond his playing level, the Swedish center made the move to the NHL and officially joined Boston’s organization in 2012-13.
“I like the game a little bit better here and it fits me better,” he said. “I liked smaller ice surface … you have to make quick decisions. That fits me well.”
After his tenure ended with the Bruins, he went on to play four seasons with the Colorado Avalanche before joining the Yotes in an offseason trade, proving himself to be a reliable forward who can come in clutch while also bringing a positive, determined attitude to the team on and off the ice.
The only true hardship when it comes to playing for multiple clubs has been finding “schools for the kids,” but after settling down, Soderberg said he is happy with the way things have played out thanks to the three organizations he’s had a chance to skate with.
In 32 games with the Coyotes, Soderberg has nine goals and 18 points and has helped the team climb the standings and tie the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division. Arizona looks to finally return to the playoffs for the first time since making the Western Conference FInal in 2012, in large part thanks to his efforts.
When asked about his career overall, Soderberg’s answer was short, yet rang true.
“I’ve been lucky,” he said simply.