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The Devils Could Take Physical Defenseman Stian Solberg with the 10th Pick in the Draft

Stian Solberg, a defenseman in the 2024 NHL Draft who hails from Norway, stands tall at 6-foot-2, 201 lbs, and possess an elite physical game.

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New Jersey Devils
Stian Solberg will also play in Vålerenga next season. // Credit: vif-hockey.no

During his end-of-season press conference, Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald had a mandate to get bigger, physical, and tougher to play against.

Odds are Fitzgerald will scour the free agent market on July 1st to do so. But before any of that, he’ll have his chance to inject the Devils prospect pool with fresh blood at the NHL Draft. The Devils hold the 10th pick in the first round and have the opportunity to add an elite prospect to an already young and exciting core.

There will be plenty of flash and skill available with the 10th pick, but if Fitzgerald stays a man of his word and opts for some big, physical, and tough to play against, look no further than Norwegian defenseman Stian Solberg.

The Devils have been linked with a few players recently, including Solberg’s countryman and potential first rounder, Michael Brandsegg-Nygård. However, it’s Solberg who’s gone under the radar for most of the draft process.

What’s caught the eye of a lot of people’s eyes when it comes to his game is his physicality. Stian Solberg plays with a mean streak that is impossible to ignore. He does a great job at using his sturdy, 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame to separate the opposition from the puck. Solberg has great gap control and is one of the more defensively responsible players in the draft.

However, Solberg has two things working against him; his lack of offense and lack of high-end competition. This past season he put up 15 points in 42 games with Valerenga in EliteHockey Ligaen (the top league in Norway). Solberg hasn’t spent much time playing against top-tier competition outside of seven World Championship games this spring.

He has, however, played in the top league in Norway for parts of the past three seasons. Solberg’s competition will be taking a step up next season when he goes to play for Farjestad in the SHL.

Solberg has been a riser in the second half of the season and after a strong showing at the World Championships, but is still projected outside of the top 10. NHL Central Scouting has him as the 20th European skater. Scott Wheeler of The Athletic has him at 21, while his co-draft analyst Corey Pronman has him at 12. In Bob McKenzie’s mid-season rankings, he was all the way down at 45, but I suspect he’ll be up significantly in his final rankings.

Selecting Solberg at 10 would be a risky move for Fitzgerald, but one that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Solberg’s defensive game and physical play are already near NHL-ready, and with another year or two of refining to go along with some offensive development, there’s a quick path to a top-four defenseman.

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