After signing a one year deal to play in Finland, New York Islanders goalie Linus Soderstrom still has his sights set on the NHL.
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by the New York Islanders, Linus Soderstrom crossed the Atlantic to start his North American career in 2018.
But injuries derailed his start to life under the umbrella of the New York Islanders. From 2018-19 through to 19-20, Soderstrom played four games in either the ECHL and AHL. All four of those games were played for the Worcester Railers of the ECHL.
The lack of playing time was tough on Soderstrom even though he was healthy enough to play for much of the 19-20 season but still didn’t get much playing time. That lack of playing time combined with a delayed start to the 20-21 AHL season meant a return to Europe, where there was significant interest for Soderstrom, was inevitable.
But speaking to his agent, the NHL is still Soderstrom’s goal.
Number 1 Goalie
In Finland, players are already reporting to their teams to begin preparations for the 2020-21 season that is scheduled to begin on October 1.
Staying in North America and waiting for the 2020-21 season to begin would mean Soderstrom wouldn’t see the ice (in a competitive setting) for months. For someone looking to get into game shape and progress their careers, sitting isn’t you know…ideal.
Christian Sjogren, Soderstrom’s agent, indicated to Kvallsposten three months ago that Soderstrom was receiving interest from his native Sweden as well from Finland. On Friday we found out that Sodertstrom had signed with Ässät of Finland’s Liiga.
After the signing, I reached out to Sjogren to asked why Ässät and if Soderstrom still had his sights set on the NHL.
Sjogren confirmed to me that Soderstrom signed with Ässät to get playing time as a number one goalie.
"He needs to play a lot of games and be the number one goalie at a high level. Porin Ässät can offer him this plus the goalie coach is very good."
But for Soderstrom, the goal is still the NHL. His stop in Finland is likely temporary and could be over as soon as the 2020-21 hockey season begins in North America.
"Linus goal is still to play in NHL. […] I strongly believe he can play in the NHL. It just going to take time. Linus has signed a one year contract and like all contracts in Europe (not KHL) you can still sign for an NHL team and terminate your contract."
Soderstrom’s first stint in North America wasn’t what he wanted it to be, but we can’t forget that this kid is incredibly talented. In 2016-17 he backstopped HV71 to a Le Mat Trophy. He also broke Henrik Lundqvist‘s SHL regular season GAA record by posting an incredible 1.34GAA in 22 games.
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Soderstrom will be back in North America soon. For now, he heads to Finland to get some games in and get back to his best before he continues his journey to the NHL.