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Islanders Simon Holmstrom mixed reviews from WJC tournament

Simon Holmstrom puts on a cap and jersey after being selected by the New York Islanders. (Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
Simon Holmstrom puts on a cap and jersey after being selected by the New York Islanders. (Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
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What do two prospects analysts think about New York Islanders Simon Holmstrom’s 2021 World Junior Championship tournament?

I watched just about every shift that Simon Holmstrom played at the 2021 World Junior Championship for Sweden. In my opinion, the New York Islanders first-round pick from 2019 was impressive and showed why Lou Lamoriello stepped up to draft him 23rd overall in 2019.

But I’m an Islanders fan and it’s entirely possible that I’m seeing things through blue and orange-tinted glasses. So I enlisted the help of two guys who don’t share my bias and who also know what they’re talking about when it comes to prospects.

I asked ESPN’s Chris Peters and The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler what they thought about Simon Holmstrom’s play and I got two strikingly different answers.

Average but Also Impressive

Again, I thought Holmstrom looked good for Sweden. My only critique was I wish he’d shoot the puck more. Holmstrom had three shots on goal in the entire tournament and they all came in Sweden’s opening game of the tournament.

ESPN’s Chris Peters felt that while Holmstrom put up enough production to have a good tournament, he believes the Isles first-round was “average”.

"Chris Peters: I thought he was mostly average in the tournament. Had five assists, which is pretty good considering he was playing a middle-six role. Even though he had that type of production, there really wasn’t any game — especially in the games against teams like Russia, USA or Finland — where he was all that noticeable. Still not entirely sure what to make of him as a player or prospect. He’s pretty smart, has enough skill to produce more, but there’s still quite a bit of development ahead of him before he can make the leap."

I don’t think any Islander fan should be surprised by the last part of what Peters said. The 19-20 season was Holmstrom’s first pro-season in North America. He was the youngest pro hockey player on the continent and had a very average year with 15 points in 46 games for the Sound Tigers.

He’s not going to factor in the New York Islanders plans this year. He’s certainly at least a year away from competing for an NHL spot.

The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler had a different – and more positive – opinion about the Islanders first-rounder.

"Scott Wheeler: I was impressed with Holmstrom’s tournament overall. He did a good job playing to the inside, which helped players like Noel Gunler play off of him. He showed a bit of creativity with the puck, especially on entries. I liked his willingness to drive the middle lane and distribute. It has to be considered a positive after a tough go with HC Vita Hasten."

According to WaveIntel, Holmstrom held an 88% zone entry success rate through five games. Which was one of the highest for Swedish forwards. His ability to drive play through the middle as Wheeler pointed out was evident throughout the tournament.

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Next. Islanders Top 25 Under 25

What’s clear is that there is no easy consensus on what Holmstrom is. While he does put up numbers and looks solid to some, others see an average player that hasn’t yet hit his stride.

This year is going to be a big year in Holmstrom’s development with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers where perhaps we’ll see him take a big step forward in his career and in the Islanders depth chart.

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