New York Islanders forward Simon Holmstrom is no longer a rookie, but he's at rookie camp.
At 23, he isn't the oldest player at camp, but we've surely known him the longest. This is the fifth camp for the 2019 1st-round draft pick, but even after skating in 50 regular-season games last season, he still has a lot to prove to the organization to earn a spot on the opening night roster.
Holmstrom still views himself as a goal scorer, but the most goals he's scored since coming to North America was 12 in 68 games with Bridgeport during the 2021-22 season. When he was called up and thrown into the lineup, it wasn't his scoring ability but rather his responsible defensive game that teammates and the coaching staff praised.
“He’s been in pro hockey for a fair amount of years now. He’s still a young player, said Bridgeport head coach Rick Kowalsky. "I look at him now as a guy to maybe emerge as a leader with this group because of his experience and his NHL experience. That’s the biggest thing."
Despite not hurting the Isles when on the ice, his lack of scoring, (six goals, three assists) resulted in him being a healthy scratch down the stretch of the season and for the playoffs as the Islanders got healthier following the acquisitions of Bo Horvat and Pierre Engvall ahead of the trade deadline and the return of Mathew Barzal versus Carolina.
“That’s the thing I know I’m best at,” Holmstrom said in the New York Post. “I know I didn’t show it last year, and I really want to show it. I’ve been watching a lot of film and a lot of clips. I know it’s there somewhere. I’m just trying to find it.”
On a two-way contract, Holmstrom can be sent to the AHL without waivers. That type of roster flexibility is good for the organization, but bad for the Swedish forward as he competes with 14 Islanders forwards that are on one-way contracts.
If he wants to make the team out of camp, he'll need to find the thing he says has been there all along. He's not old, but he's not getting younger, and there are a plethora of eager and talented competition in rookie camp looking to leap him on the Islanders depth chart.