This past week, 21-year-old Simon Holmstrom made his National Hockey League debut in the New York Islanders 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers last Wednesday. He got the opportunity to play on the top line with Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom. Over the previous two games, Holmstrom has played primarily with Zach Parise and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
In three games, Simon Holmstrom has an assist, a block, and two takeaways in an average of 11:38 minutes per game.
New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert shared following Monday’s practice that Holmstrom’s intelligence was the biggest standout through three games.
“His intelligence. I think he’s got a real innate ability to read things, whether it be body positioning, stick positioning, how to engage in battles in order to win the puck, and I’ve really enjoyed watching, seeing that,” Lambert said.
Lambert, who has been with New York as an assistant since 2018 before his first head coaching gig this season, has seen Holmstrom since the beginning through development camps, to training camps, and preseason play. He’s seen growth.
“He’s done a great job,” Lambert said. “He’s been brought along the right way. And he’s grown in Bridgeport, and you know, he’s here now, so he’s done a good job.”
Following Holmstrom’s first NHL game, NYI Hockey Now asked Lambert what he had seen from Holmstrom and why he was the one that got the call-up.
“Well, I think we’re seeing just more of what we’re seeing now,” Lambert said. “And again, I know I keep saying, and I sound like a broken record, but his intelligence, it’s high, and he’s putting himself in the right position to not only make plays offensively, but makes plays defensively, was what we were seeing [in Bridgeport]. And I think we’re seeing more of that here.”
The former 23rd overall pick was the readiest of the prospects and was coming off a career season with the Bridgeport Islanders, as he posted 12 goals and 31 assists in 68 games before three goals and one assist in six Calder Cup games. This season with Bridgeport, Holmstrom had three goals and two assists in five games.
While in the American Hockey League (AHL), all 153 games played were under the direction of Brent Thompson.
“It’s always fun to see your guys go up,” Thompson said. “It’s great to see Simon get the opportunity, and he’s earned it. I mean, he’s played great for us, and he’s evolved as a hockey player, and he’s fun to watch.”
As for what Thompson has seen over Holmstrom’s first three games:
“His hockey sense. [He’s] supporting the puck, moves well, strong on the puck, and [plays] a reliable 200-foot game. That’s my first impression watching him up there. [I’m] so happy he got the opportunity, and hopefully, he continues to build and help the Islanders.”
NYI Hockey Now also caught up with New York Islanders defenseman Robin Salo, who played with Simon Holmstrom in Bridgeport last season and a few games this season.
“Really, really happy. I mean, I think he deserved it [the call-up],” Salo said. “He is a good player, a fantastic skater. He’s really skilled, so really happy for him, and I hope he continues to play well.”
Lambert shared following Monday’s practice that Kyle Palmieri (upper-body) will not make the trip to Philadelphia and is still considered day-to-day. Holmstrom took line rushes Monday with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zach Parise, as he is expected to skate in his fourth NHL game Tuesday night.