It looked like it was going to be a long road to recovery for NY Islanders rookie Simon Holmstrom after a knee-on-knee collision with Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett on Dec.23rd prior to the NHL holiday break. Luckily for the Islanders, but more importantly for Holmstrom himself, it appears as though the 21-year-old forward avoided major injury and has recovered quicker than anticipated. Heading into tonight's contest against the Dallas Stars, Holmstrom has been activated off the injured reserve and is a game-time decision to be inserted into the lineup.
The first inclination that things were heading in the right direction for Holmstrom was the day after his collision where he was seen in an Instagram post on Christmas Eve, spending time with Grant Hutton for the holiday's and he wasn't wearing any support on his leg. Heading to just injured reserve instead of long-term injured reserve a few weeks back was the second sign that the Swedish forward would return sooner rather than later.
Holmstrom stepped on the ice for morning skate on Monday as a full participant and lined up next to Mathew Barzal (who also was dealing with an ailment but is confirmed to play against the Stars tonight) and Anders Lee on the Islanders first line. Following Monday's skate, head coach Lane Lambert was pleased with Holmstrom's progress.
"I thought he looked good," Lambert explained. "He's been skating and today was a day when we could integrate him into the group and see where he went from there, and I thought he looked good."
Tuesday morning brought more of the same. Before any word was out about Holmstrom coming off injured reserve, he lined up with Barzal and Lee again. As a regular participant, and fellow rookie Aatu Räty skating in a grey "extra" jersey, it became clear Holmstrom would come off injured reserve and return to game action against Dallas.
With Holmstrom back in the lineup and Räty a likely scratch, Casey Cizikas returns to his usual spot centering the fourth line.
Prior to injury, Holmstrom had a goal and an assist in 14 games this season. Although the stats look a little low, Lambert and the Islanders have been pleased with his play on the ice, especially defensively.