Even after an injury that ultimately required surgery torpedoed his 2017-18 season, there was hope that hot Islanders goalie prospect Linus Soderstrom would be able to make his North American debut and push his way up the depth chart in 2018-19.
Now, it’s unclear when he’ll even hit the ice.
In a lengthy interview with Swedish outlet Hockey Sverige (truly lengthy: You’ll need a couple runs in Google Translate to grasp the whole thing), Söderström discussed the frustration of experiencing another injury during his rehab last spring and how continued setbacks mean he’s yet to take the ice. In addition to sports hernia (which he ultimately had surgery for, rehabbing under the Islanders’ guidance in North America), he also dealt with a foot injury last season.
That goes a long way to explaining why he followed up a championship season and sudden rise to the starter’s role for HV71 with a tough start last fall, ultimately being shelved for the season. To be clear, Söderström said he’s had great care, but has run into a series of rehab setbacks.
He still “wants to recover as quickly as possible” and get to the Islanders as soon as possible. “I’m dedicated to playing in the best hockey league in the world. I’m just now in a phase where I have to be patient.”
For observers of the Islanders, who weren’t going to just volunteer summer injury updates, it’s now a little clearer why they stocked up on more goalies below the NHL this summer. (For AHL Bridgeport, in addition to re-signing Christopher Gibson, they also signed AHL vet Jeremy Smith.)
It also means we — or at least some of us — need to temper our expectations for this prospect. He has the talent, but a series of injuries and a year or more of development time lost is a red flag.
Our aggregate vote in the Top 25 Under 25 poll put the 22-year-old (happy birthday, Linus!) at #12. But count me as one who’d have lowered his vote if I knew at the time that Söderström wouldn’t be able to start the season.
Anyway, that’s where Söderström is at right now, in his own words. The interview (and thanks to friend of the blog Patrik Bexell of Eyes on the Prize for bringing it to our attention) is worth checking out (and translating). Söderström also discusses his decision to speak publicly about his Aspberger’s and ADHD diagnosis, and how he was happy to hear it inspired others to discuss their own differences in the public sphere.
We’re pulling for you, Linus. Take all that time you need.