For Islanders 2019 first round pick Simon Holmstrom, his first National Hockey League training camp didn’t get off to a very fast start. In fact, the 23rd overall selection this past June missed all of last week’s rookie camp and the first two days of training camp because of a broken ankle suffered while playing for HV 71 in the Swedish Hockey League five days before he traveled back to the United States.
Injuries have been a problem for Holmstrom in recent years as hip and thumb issues caused the right winger to miss all but two games for HV 71 in Sweden over the last two seasons. So, after the ankle injury caused him to miss the start of training camp, Holmstrom did begin practicing on Sunday and is getting ready for pre-season games.
“Kind of a rough start,” Holmstrom told me after practice Tuesday morning at the Northwell Health Ice Center on Long Island. “I’m going now and really looking forward to it.”
Last season, Holmstrom did play in 21 games for HV 71’s J20 team in the Swedish SuperElit League and scored 7 goals to along with 13 assists for 20 points. In 2017-18, the 6-1 196-pound winger with a left-handed show played in 28 games racking up 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points.
Holmstrom did not play in the Islanders’ 3-1 win over the Flyers Monday night in the pre-season opener in Philadelphia and wasn’t in the lineup for Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win overtime win over the Flyers at NYCB Live Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but he could make his pre-season debut on Friday night against the Red Wings in Detroit.
“I’m always excited to play games,” said Holmstrom. “That’s why you play hockey…to play games so I’m really excited for it. There’s a lot of talent here and I’m just trying to do my best and make it hard for them.”
Holmstrom is referring to impressing General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Head Coach Barry Trotz enough to earn a spot on the Islanders’ opening night roster. The 18-year-old Holmstrom likely needs more experience and is expected to be sent back to his team in Sweden at some point during training camp, but he’ll certainly get a chance to open some eyes.
Even with his expected to return to Sweden, the pre-season games will be important for Holmstrom as he gets acclimated to the North American game.
“It’s different (than in Europe),” said Holmstrom who played for Sweden in the 2018 World Junior Championship. “There’s more speed here and it’s more physical. I think that fits in well to my game and I hope to improve even more.”
Holmstrom is one many outstanding prospects now in the Islanders system. Some of them like Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson and Keiffer Bellows and Bode Wilde are closer to being Islanders than Holmstrom is currently, but the talented forward is happy to be in a first-class organization that is building towards becoming a contender for the Stanley Cup.
Every great organization needs a mix of veterans and young players and Holmstrom is glad to be part of the exciting feeling around the Islanders organization.
“I think they’ve built up something very good here,” said Holmstrom. “It’s an unbelievable staff and there’s great players. I’m really excited for the future. The Islanders have a very good future.”
The Islanders are also hoping for a very good present. After a 103-point season and a first-round playoff win in 2018-19, the Islanders are looking to take another step this season. Although the present likely won’t include Simon Holmstrom, there’s certainly a lot of excitement that at some point in the future, he will be a big part of the Islanders organization.