Welcome to the Show: Analysis & Remarks From Simon Holmstrom’s NHL Debut

After 153 games in the American Hockey League, 21-year-old Simon Holmström made his NHL debut at UBS Arena for the New York Islanders against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night, donning the no. 10.

First Game in the Show

Simon Holmstrom did not have time to think about what he was about to accomplish as he found out at 11 AM Wednesday morning that he was getting called-up to the NHL. He had just finished skating with Bridgeport. He quickly hopped on a bus, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau saying, ‘He got here just at the game, I think.

It’s not every day that you make your NHL debut on your club’s first line, but Simon Holmstrom did as he skated alongside Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom.

Holmstrom did not play much, just 11:11, but was effective in his limited time on ice. The line only played 9:34 together, per Natural Stat Trick. They were outshot 6-2, but the Islanders top line took advantage of their chances as they were on the ice and heavily involved in the Sebastian Aho goal.

The first-day NHler did not get a point on that goal, but by going to the back post, he forced Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard to pay attention to him, which ever so slightly pulled Bouchard out of position. He could not recover in time, and Wahlstrom found Aho after a strong play.

“It was great,” Holmstrom said about skating with Barzal and Wahlstrom. “I think they helped me out a lot, and I think we made some good plays. We also got a goal, and we won.”

As for what it felt like to make his NHL debut: “Just a great experience, and I’m very happy for the win. I think we did a great job. I will probably realize it tomorrow morning when I wake up or when I get back home tonight.”

When you don’t stand out, that usually means you aren’t doing anything wrong, and for his first game, Holmstrom impressed by doing the little things. And we know how important the little things are in the New York Islanders system.

His head coach Lane Lambert liked what he saw.

“I liked his game. I think he’s a player who’s a smart player. He’s strong on the puck. I saw him make a number of intelligent plays with the puck, and he steals pucks. He’s on pucks. So I liked his game a lot,” Lambert said.

As for why Lambert wanted him to play with Barzal: We did play them together in training camp for reasons, and there was some familiarity there.”

“I thought he played very well. He’s a young guy who wants to always do his best,” Pageau said. “He had a good stick so many times. He made some really nice passes. He was in the right spot, and that’s hard to do, to keep your composure, and he did that.”

“So all the credit goes to him. He’s a really good player that’s fun to be around. Also, everyone likes him. And he seemed pretty calm out there.”

For Cal Clutterbuck, he knows how hard Holmstrom worked to get to this point.

“It’s awesome. He’s been around a long time. He’s just a great kid. He’s always got a smile on his face and [is always] working his tail off. And it’s great to see him get a chance out there. Hopefully, many more to come.”

Holmstrom’s Development

In 15 games with the Bridgeport Islanders this season, the Swedish native scored three goals with two assists, totaling five points at the AHL level.

While three goals may not be a big deal, Holmstrom was coming off his best season in Bridgeport, with 12 goals and 31 assists in 68 games, before notching four points in six playoff games (three goals, one assist).

In Bridgeport, head coach Brent Thompson had Holmström skating alongside Aatu Räty and William Dufour. This young Bridgeport line has been a lethal trio, with 12 goals combined.

Out of the three, Holmström has the most developmental experience with 153 AHL games, as Räty (15 games) and Dufour (16) are new to the Islanders system.

In the times NYI Hockey Now has been in the building with Holmström on the ice, he has looked confident not only with his skating abilities but when he has the puck on his stick.

A great example is his goal against the Springfield Thunderbirds while the Islanders were short-handed.

There is no clear personal goal for Holmstrom. Just business as usual.

“Just the same as usual. Just play my game and use my skills and learn and take in as much as you can and just play hard,” Holmström told NYI Hockey Now following a 4-1 loss against the Charlotte Checkers on Nov.18.

With Kyle Palmieri listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, who knows when he will be ready to return? If Palmieri is out of the lineup for the New YIslanders’ Saturday night contest against the Philadelphia Flyers, expect Simon Holmstrom to slot back in.

Joshua Linsenberg contributed to his article.

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