We’ve been so caught up in the New York Islanders win two series in this most unusual Stanley cup playoff season, we haven’t had much discussion on how they’ll handle assignments between the bubble playoffs and the still undefined start of the 2020-21 season.
To this end, Simon holmstrom has a new (temporary) home: The Islanders announced his loan to Vita Hästen of HockeyAllsvenska, the second level of Swedish professional hockey. Their schedule begins on September 11, so Holmstrom could get some much-needed gaming action soon.
The Islanders’ first-round pick last summer (a man, it seems a long time ago) played in the AHL at the age of 18, amassing 15 points in 46 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. It’s rare for a player to be in the AHL at this age, and Holmstrom doesn’t have much of a build yet, so we can cautiously view his first season in North America as a good first step.
Now a return to Sweden will give him a chance to get more reps while enjoying a little more space.
It also raises the question: will there be other European opportunities for island prospects? Apparently this summer the supply was high with minor pros based in North America calling European teams to see if there were any openings. Overall, the European leagues are picking up the game well ahead of the North American leagues. With the uncertainty, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more junior professional veterans retiring.
The NHL has previously said it wants to start the 2020-21 season in December or January and start a full 82-game season. Meanwhile, the AHL has said its season will be start no earlier than December 4.
#He is may recall Holmstrom from Vita Hasten HC, so he’ll likely be back when NHL camp opens 2020-21.
– Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) August 28, 2020
But everything is to be determined in the era of COVID-19. While the bubble has gone extremely well, openness to teams traveling again, in the middle of winter, can open up a number of variables.
For players who can’t find a seat – or their teams can’t find an assignment – before that it will be a lot of downtime, especially for players whose 2019-20 minor league seasons have been cut short and who haven’t gotten much (if any) time in the NHL’s return camp. Do other islanders with previous European ties like Sebastien aho (a pending call for tenders) find a place to work?
Not the hottest topic at the moment, obviously, but something to watch out for at the start of European seasons.