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Mark Masters

SPORTSCENTRE Reporter

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Simon Edvinsson has embraced mixed martial arts as he works his way toward the National Hockey League. 

"It was two years ago and my dad said, 'Let's go and try something new,' and I said, 'Okay, why not?'" recalled the 6-foot-4, 198-pound defenceman, who played 10 games for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League last season. "So, we tried mixed martial arts and I said, 'Wow, this is good for my long body to just have control of everything.' I feel like the more you do it the more control you have on your body."

Edvinsson also enjoys watching the fights. 

"I've always been a fan of Conor McGregor," the 18-year-old lefty said with a laugh. "He's just cool. He's a cool guy."

Although Edvinsson's personality is quite different than the 'Notorious' McGregor. 

"I'm more laid-back than he is ... I'm more calm and maybe humble. He's pretty aggressive."

That humble nature is evident when Edvinsson is asked about coming in third on TSN's final list of draft prospects compiled by Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie. 

"Of course, it's fun," said Edvinsson, who also played 14 games each with Frolunda's junior team and Vasteras in Sweden's second division last season.

"The draft is something that you have a goal to reach, but it's still a long way to go to be a really good player. After the draft I want to improve with whichever team is taking me and show them I'm going to do everything for the team."

In an interview with TSN, Edvinsson spoke about his NHL role models and what he learned from playing on a smaller surface at the IIHF U18 World Championship.

The following is an edited transcript of the interview.  

How would you describe your style? 

"Pretty calm player that sees the ice [well] with good passes and good skating." 

Do you have an NHL player you see as a role model?

"I have a lot of role models. I try to learn from Victor Hedman, Miro Heiskanen and Cale Makar. I try to take things from a lot of players who are really good at what they do. That's my thinking." 

What do you take from Hedman? 

"He's a big guy, like me, and he uses his stick really good and makes smart decisions while always being aggressive and strong. So, just taking his game style of how he plays and skates. Everything that he does on the ice, I can do also." 

What about Heiskanen? 

"He's a great skater and really comfortable with the puck and can make good passes and maybe [beat] one guy and deliver a good pass, so that's one thing. And how he moves on the blueline. Makar and Quinn Hughes, they also have terrific movement on the blueline, so I try and watch all I can from them to learn." 

What was the experience like playing against men in the SHL last season? 

"It's really fun to play when it goes fast. It was unbelievable to play with such good players and learn from that and really compare to them and develop my game from that. It was hard, but it was fun."

What did you learn? 

"Just to always be ready for everything. Like, it always happens, something, maybe a turnover and you have to be alert with your feet and your head always. Anything can happen, so that's the thing I take with me the most."

What did you take from the IIHF U18 World Championship in Texas where Sweden won a bronze medal?

"You don't always need to play that final pass and [beat] the last guy. You can make the simple pass and play it simple and let the game come to you, so that's a big step. I learned from that tournament – just to jump in when you see there's an opening and really take the play simply."

What's it like playing on the smaller surface?

"My long stick is pretty nice to have on a small rink. Just to be a tall defenceman and play on the smaller rink is good. When the play goes faster you can beat maybe one or two guys with one pass and make one [move] to create an odd-man rush. It's really fun to play on a small rink."

Sweden struggled in the first game, a blowout against Team Canada, but you seemed to fight to the end that night. What were you thinking in that moment? 

"I was thinking that this is the level we need to be at to really have a chance to get a trophy and to win the gold. I was just thinking to never give up and just to try to play my game, even if we allowed four goals or five goals ... just keep playing." 

Your dad is a police officer. Did he teach you discipline? 

"Yeah, of course. Always be respectful and humble, so I take that from him. And never give up."

Your mom is a personal trainer. How has she helped you? 

"With mobility and putting everything together. And just to train extra and to have that chance to train a little bit more."  

What have you been focusing on this summer? 

"A lot. To be stronger with my body and to feel like I have every muscle activated and to get a better shot. Just getting better with everything." 

How do you work on getting a better shot? 

"A lot of shots [every] day."

What's your favourite shot?

"The silent shot or a really hard slap shot."

What's a silent shot? 

"When the goalie doesn't see the shot coming. I really like to do those shots."

What will keep you out of the World Junior Summer Showcase in Michigan? 

"I got a hit to my shoulder. It's a muscle contusion. It's nothing bad. I'll just recover for a few days and be ready for when we start SHL. Of course, in my mind I was already over to play, but the doctor says it's smarter to be at home and recover and be ready when the season starts. It was his decision, but nothing bad.”