NY Islanders 2023-24 Player Report Card: Simon Holmstrom Blossomed Into A Legitimate Top-9 Forward This Season

Simon Holmstrom's five short-handed goals for the NY Islanders ranked second in the NHL.
Simon Holmstrom's five short-handed goals for the NY Islanders ranked second in the NHL. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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When the NY Islanders selected RW Simon Holmstrom with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, it appeared they had reached far off the board for their selection. Few, if any, of the traditional draft publications considered Holmstrom a first-round talent. But the Isles stuck to their guns, and it looks like they have been rewarded for their faith in Holmstrom.

*Read our previously Published player report cards: Sebastian Aho | Mat Barzal | Samuel Bolduc | Casey Cizikas | Cal Clutterbuck | Noah Dobson | Pierre Engvall | Hudson Fasching

After making the team outright in training camp, Holmstrom started the 2023-24 season off slowly, with only one point in October. But Holmstrom would break out for five goals in November, on his way to a 15-goal season. Along the way, Holmstrom discovered another niche in his game when he started scoring on the penalty kill. Holmstrom's five short-handed goals ranked second in the NHL this season.

While the Islanders had the worst penalty kill in the NHL this season, that was no fault of Holmstrom's, as he developed into a strong two-way winger. Besides the five shorties, Holmstrom frequently used his stick to disrupt the opponent's power play passing sequences and used his size and speed to keep the opponent off balance. Specifically, Holmstrom developed chemistry with center JG Pageau, and the two played together not only on the penalty kill but frequently at even strength.

In addition to his chemistry with Pageau, Holmstrom proved to be a Swiss Army Knife for the Islanders. From one game to the next, Holmstrom was expected to move from a third-line checking role to the first line with Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal. And throughout this process, no matter what role Holmstrom was asked to fill, he filled it well. Finally, Holmstrom showed great discipline this year, with only 14 penalty minutes (7 minor penalties) in 75 games. For a team with an atrocious penalty kill, staying out of the penalty box is essential, and Holmstrom nailed that aspect of his game this year.

While Holmstrom's 15 goals were a boon to the Isles this season, he did shoot nearly 21%, which implies regression in the future unless he can shoot the puck more often. However, Holmstrom's career NHL shooting percentage over 125 games is 18.9%, so there is a chance Holmstrom is just a better-than-average shooter or otherwise has a knack for finding high-quality scoring chances. But it is unlikely that Holmstrom will shoot ~20% forever, so he will likely have to find a way to increase shot volume to keep those goal totals up in future seasons.

Looking at the big picture for the Islanders, it is hard to find any negatives with Holmstrom's season. His ability to play on any line with any of his teammates increased the team's flexibility throughout the season, and his ability to thrive on the penalty kill added a dimension that the team had been missing. Moving forward, the Islanders would love for Holmstrom to maintain his strong two-way disposition, as he has finally developed into the player they thought he could be all the way back in June 2019 when they went off the board to bring him into the organization.

Final Grade: A-

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