Simon Holmstrom might not be suiting up for the Islanders when they begin the season in two weeks, but he’s showing a glimpse of what the team and fans could expect to see in the very near future.
Holmstrom, the club’s first round pick from 2019, has looked terrific so far for Sweden at the World Juniors in Edmonton.
As of this morning, Holmstrom’s four points have him ranked eighth in scoring in the tournament and the leading point-getter for a loaded Swedish team. “For (Holmstrom) he knows the small rink may be better than most of our guys,” Sweden’s head coach Joel Ronnmark said about Holmstrom after Sweden opened the tournament Saturday with a win.
“He has been playing over here in North America, so he has a lot of experience he can share with the group. I think he’s a skilled player. Fun for that unit to have a goal on the power play as well and for him I as well I think it’s a good start.”
A good start might be putting it lightly with what Holmstrom has shown at the tournament to this point.
The 19-year-old’s recorded four points through two games — both wins for his Swedish squad — and has showed flashes of brilliance, especially in last night in a 4-0 victory over Austria.
Simon Holmstrom with the silky behind the back feed for his second point of the game, fourth point of the tournament thus far. pic.twitter.com/wzayBVAQU1
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) December 29, 2020
Holmstrom is no spring chicken when it comes to performing on the world’s stage.. At the U18s last year, he recorded six points in seven games and helped Sweden win a gold medal.
This time around though was expected to be an even more crucial tournament for Holmstrom and his progression.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, his season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2019-20 — his first year playing over in North America — had been cut short to only 46 games. It wasn’t until October when he got back on the ice again after the Islanders had loaned him to HC Vita Hasten in Sweden. There he only got to play in 11 games before the Islanders called him back and he was selected to represent Sweden.
Holmstrom and Sweden are a threat to repeat for the gold and with how he’s performed until now it wouldn’t come as surprise if they were in the final game. They sit atop Group B with the hardest part of their schedule now coming with Russia and the United States.
Those should be some fun affairs and another chance for Holmstrom to shine against some stiffer competition.
Everything with the Islanders’ remaining days of the offseason seems to held up by the pending Mathew Barzal contract negotiations.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun wrote yesterday the Isles were keeping close tabs on Mike Hoffman before St. Louis signed him to a PTO — and soon to be $4 million contract once LTIR kicks in — on Sunday. You could also throw Andreas Athanasiou’s name in there too as another possible option who the Isles might have targeted if Barzal had been locked up already. He signed with Los Angeles yesterday afternoon on a one-year deal.
With Derick Brassard off to Arizona, the time has arrived to “let the kids play.” Brass’s third line spot will now be one of the bigger battles and storylines when the Isles begin camp on Sunday.
Oliver Wahlstrom, Josh Ho-Sang, Dmitry Timashov, Otto Koivula, Kieffer Bellows and Austin Czarnik are all possible options to win that role.
The Islanders seem to be finding themselves as one of the favorites in the East. In The Buffalo News’ evaluation of the newly formed East Division, they wrote:
”Why does no one in this division talk about the Islanders? It seems like everyone forgot the Islanders were in the conference finals against Tampa Bay in the bubble.
I was astounded that their odds of winning the division, according to some of these gambling websites, are so low. They have Mathew Barzal and they didn’t really lose much this offseason, aside from goalie Thomas Greiss. The blue line is still solid. They have the best coach in the league in Trotz. … It wouldn’t shock me at all if they won this division.
And there’s going to be some emotion there. This is the last year for the Nassau Coliseum for real this time and you’re looking at a brand-new arena coming and that’s going to completely transform that franchise even more.”