It’s been a while since we’ve talked about goalie prospect Linus Söderström, who was named the Best Goaltender at last year’s World Junior Championship. But just because we’ve been lazy over the last year, doesn’t mean he has.
Following the tournament (in his final year of eligibility), Söderström returned to Vita Hästen, the team in Sweden’s Allsvenskan league that he was loaned to from his SHL club, Djurgårdens. He finished with a 7-10-0 record and a .927 save percentage but at the end of the season, Djurgårdens chose not to retain him and he instead signed on with HV71. Since then, the 6’-4” 20-year old has put up some even better numbers despite being the understudy to starter Fredrik Petterson-Wentzel.
Last week, Söderström spoke with Swedish sports magazine HockeySverige.se about the pretty crazy calendar year he had, going from WJC hero to unwanted free agent to secret weapon.
The full article is here and below are some of the better bits translated with some updated numbers. As we found out when he spoke about his Aspergers and ADHD, Söderström seems to have a good head on his shoulders and a confidence about his game that’s served him well so far.
Djurgården had explained that Söderström wasn’t in their plans and he was free to look for another club. “The choice to leave became an easy one once Djurgården explained that I wasn’t good enough for SHL and I wasn’t part of their plans,” Söderström told HockeySverige.se
HV71 had stated their interest from early on and Söderström explains that “it felt really good already from the start. There was only two clubs that was in the race, Djurgården and HV71. In the end it became an easy choice as Djurgården turned me down. HV71 was the perfect fit for me and I am grateful for what happened in the end. I arrived to a club that believed in me and treated me well, it feels really good.”
HV71 is one of the top clubs in SHL, currently in third place, and while Djurgården has struggled and is currently outside of the playoffs in 11th place. HV71 has prospered, in part due to Söderström’s play as a back-up goalie. In the 13 games he has played, he has a 10-3-0 record with two shutouts, a save percentage of .930 and a GAA of 1.66. Those numbers are better than Fredrik Petterson-Wentzel (12-11-0, a .910 S% and 2.17 GAA) who is the team’s main goalie.
Söderström thinks it’s great playing as a back up for now. “‘PW’ has many seasons in SHL and he is a great goalie, it is obviously good for me to be here to work with and learn from him in order to be successful on the ice. We have different play style, but I can still learn a lot form a goalkeeper like that”.
His contract with HV71 ends at the end of the season but Söderström wouldn’t mind continuing with the club “It is great here, I have found a home here in the club and I’d love to continue here”.
His transition from Allsvenskan to SHL went smoother than he expected. "It's a massive difference between Allsvenskan and SHL, I am happy I had two WJCs under my belt before the transition to a higher league. The tempo is higher in SHL, but since the rinks in the WJC (in Finland) was on hybrid or NHL sized rinks it actually gave an even higher pace of the game, and I know the skills would be high here too.”
Okay, here’s the part you were looking for. Basically, the Islanders just check in with him every once in a while but generally letting him be him.
In regards to the New York Islanders, Söderström says that after the long break after Vita Hästen finished the season, it was great to get to the training camp with the Islanders this summer.
What does he hear from the Islanders during the season? “Well they are here watching some games every now and then, we speak a bit, but they let me do my own thing right now.”
We’ll try to get another update or two on Söderström’s progress while also hoping we get to see him again on this continent before long.