In a surprise, the New York Islanders have selected Swedish winger Simon Holmstrom with the 23rd overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver. Holmström, a sniper with the HV71 Junior team, was seen as likely to be a second-round pick by many prognosticators, though a few had him as high as the top 20.
In doing so, the Islanders left some prominent North American-based forwards on the board like centers Ryan Suzuki and Philip Tomasino (who Nashville selected with the next pick).
Holmstrom is listed at 6’1 and 193 lbs. He put up 7-13—20 in 21 games with the HV71 junior team in 2018-19, and put up 3-3-6 in 7 games at the U18 World Championship.
- Bob McKenzie had Holmström ranked 43rd based on his polling of scouts, though he was one who said some scouts had him in the top 20.
- Future Considerations had Holmström ranked 24.
- NHL Central Scouting, which is usually all over the place compared to how things play out, ranked Holmström just 26th among European skaters.
- Over at Silver Seven, Colin Cudmore’s impressive averaging of over 60 rankings put Holmstrom at 40.
- Post-draft, guru Corey Pronman says the injuries made for a tricky player to scout. But there is a lot to like about him:
...He makes a lot of smart decisions and finds options consistently well. With HV71, Holmstrom was often used in their setups to make plays from behind the net, and he did so very well, finding players in high-percentage areas in a variety of ways. He has slippery skill, and while he won’t often go end-to-end, he can get through defenders and have the odd impact shift with his skill. Holmstrom competes well...
Team Fit: A lot of scouts were bullish on Holmstrom’s talent level, but he’s been tough to watch as he’s been injured so much the past two years. On talent, this is a perfectly reasonable slot; he’s very skilled and intelligent. I would have hesitations without seeing him over a longer period at high levels, but I have some contacts who will endorse this pick. He will need time to play and do so versus men and is several years away.
- The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler listed the Islanders under the “losers” category (along with about a dozen other teams) but said that Holmstrom is not without skill. Just don’t expect a star:
In Simon Holmstrom, the Islanders get a kid who I quite liked at the beginning of the year (even as a potential late-first-round pick) but ultimately slid all the way to No. 55 when he failed to really grab hold of it and become the go-to forward on his SuperElit team, on which he was often outshined by 2020 prospect Zion Nybeck. Holmstrom has excellent hands and an NHL frame, both of which should help him become a decent middle-six forward at the next level. Just don’t expect him to become a star, or even a line-driver. He’ll need the right mix of linemates to become a worthwhile first-round pick.
So this isn’t a player who would’ve been available to the Islanders when their second pick comes around at 57th overall. But it will be seen as a bit of a reach in the first round until Holmstrom proves otherwise.
One solace, If you’re worried about this being a reach, is he had to overcome some injuries, which limited viewings and dropped his stock over the course of the year. Sometimes that is how a more skilled player can drop in the draft.
Isles first round pick Simon Holmstrom said he knows he needs to work on his strength in the gym because he knows he's going to be playing against men. "Hopefully, I'll be a man soon."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) June 22, 2019
Holmstrom describes himself as an offensive player who likes to have the puck and crash the net.— Cory Wright (@WrightsWay) June 22, 2019
Said Peter Forsberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Mat Barzal are players he models his game after. #Isles
That was the Islanders’ only pick in the first round, but they were also mentioned in some trade chatter, which was swirling around pretty much every team on a draft night that had lots of talk but (thus far) little bite:
In addition to Leddy & Hickey, Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang is very much in play.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 22, 2019
If the Islanders make no trades, they will have four picks on Saturday’s second day of the draft:
- 2nd round (57th, from the Travis Hamonic deal, where the Islanders send Calgary this year’s 4th-rounder)
- 5th round: (147th)
- 6th round: (178th)
- 7th round: (209th)
The Islanders’ third-round pick was traded to Edmonton in the Brandon Davidson trade, and their fourth-round pick was swapped to the Calgary Flames as part of the Travis Hamonic trade.
2019 NHL Entry Draft First-Round Picks
Here’s who else was selected in the first round leading up to the Islanders’ pick, including one surprising consensus reach (Detroit’s selection at #6) and one draft floor swap of picks (Philadelphia grabbed #45 in exchange for trading #14 for #11 with Arizona):
- New Jersey Devils - Jack Hughes, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
- New York Rangers - Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (FIN)
- Chicago Blackhawks - Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon (WHL)
- Colorado Avalanche - Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver (WHL)
- Los Angeles Kings - Alex Turcotte, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
- Detroit Red Wings - Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim (GER)
- Buffalo Sabres - Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge (WHL)
- Edmonton Oilers - Philip Broberg, D, AIK (SWE-2)
- Anaheim Ducks - Trevor Zegras, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
- Vancouver Canucks - Vasily Podkolzin, R, Neva St. Petersburg, (RUS-2)
- Arizona Coyotes (draft floor trade with PHI) - Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (SWE)
- Minnesota Wild - Matthew Boldy, L, USA U-18 (USHL)
- Florida Panthers - Spencer Knight, G, USA U-18 (USHL)
- Philadelphia Flyers (draft floor trade with ARI) - Cameron York, D, USA U-18 (USHL)
- Montreal Canadiens - Cole Caufield, R, USA U-18 (USHL)
- Colorado Avalanche - Alex Newhook, C, Victoria (BCHL)
- Vegas Golden Knights - Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay (WHL)
- Dallas Stars - Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga (OHL)
- Ottawa Senators - Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna (WHL)
- Winnipeg Jets - Ville Heinola, D, Lukko (FIN)
- Pittsburgh Penguins - Samuel Poulin, L, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
- Los Angeles Kings - Tobias Bjornfot, D, Djurgarden (SWE-JR)
- New York Islanders - Simon Holmström, R, HV71 (SWE-JR)
- Nashville Predators - Philip Tomasino, C, Niagara (OHL)
- Washington Capitals - Connor McMichael, C, London (OHL)
- Calgary Flames - Jakob Pelletier, L, Moncton (QMJHL)
- Tampa Bay Lightning - Nolan Foote, L, Kelowna (WHL)
- Carolina Hurricanes - Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie (OHL)
- Anaheim Ducks - Brayden Tracey, L, Moose Jaw (WHL)
- Boston Bruins - John Beecher, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
- Buffalo Sabres - Ryan Johnson, D, Sioux Falls (USHL)