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Simon Holmstrom Fitting Right in on New York Islanders Top Line

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New York Islanders, Simon Holmstrom

The New York Islanders have not had to deal with many injuries this season, but with Kyle Palmieri day-to-day with an upper-body injury, support was called in from Bridgeport for the first time this season.

Simon Holmstrom, the New York Islanders first-round pick (23rd) in 2019, was the winner as not only did he make his NHL debut on Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers, but Islanders coach Lane Lambert opted to place the 21-year-old forward on the top line with Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom.

He could very well make a case for a spot on a team with not a lot of free slots.

The Islanders defeated the Oilers 3-0, as Holmstrom had a solid NHL debut, being a plus-one in 11:11 minutes. His play along the boards is what stood out. He did all of the little things right and made key plays in the defensive zone but not much offense to speak of.

He built on that performance Friday night, in the Islanders 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After making some key plays in the defensive zone, Holmstrom chipped the puck around a Blue Jackets defender to start a rush with Mathew Barzal.

Barzal took that rush chance up the ice and handed it off to Wahlstrom — who fired a shot past Joonas Korpisalo to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead early on.

It was such a quick board play by Holmstrom, which created a smooth transition for Barzal. And when you are playing with Barzal, that’s exactly the kinds of plays Lamber is looking for.

During the first intermission, Oliver Wahlstrom spoke on his goal but credited Holmstrom:

“The more they get accustomed to each other, there will be more knowledge of where each other are and what each other’s tendencies are,” Lambert said. “I thought they certainly played well, and Wahlstrom certainly got himself in a position to shoot, and it was a great play by both Barzal and Holmstrom.”

At 6’2, Holmstrom has the reach to break up passing lanes with his stick, and he has shown the awareness to get into the right spots to do so early in his NHL career.

His 205-pound frame also gives him the strength to win defensive zone puck battles, and his defensive prowess allows Barzal and Wahlstrom to be free off the rush.

With Palmieri listed as day-to-day, there is no telling how long this combination lasts, but it could be a good peak into the future of the Islanders.

UP NEXT FOR THE ISLES

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS

  • WHEN/WHERE: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; UBS Arena, Elmont
  • TV/STREAMING: MSGSN/ESPN+
  • LAST SEASON: Islanders won season series 3-1
  • ALL-TIME SERIES:  Flyers lead 148-98-18, 26 ties
  • SEASON SERIES: First meeting of the season