Simon Holmstrom has seen his draft stock slowly drop over the course of the season as he just wasn’t able to stay healthy. It started with a hip injury that required surgery last summer, then a broken thumb, and then a concussion.
When he was fully healthy, though, he was as noticeable as ever, culminating in a very good performance at the World Under-18 tournament to end the season.
If a team feels that the injuries this season were just a combination of bad timing and bad luck, then they may walk away with a player that many had projected a first-round talent entering this season.
Let’s break down the season that was for Simon Holmstrom.
- Age/Birthdate: 17 / May 24, 2001
- Birthplace: Tranas, SWE
- Frame: 6-foot-1 / 185 lbs
- Position: RW
- Handedness: L
- Draft Year Team: Hv 71 J20 (SuperElit) / HV71 (SHL)
- U16 SM Gold Medal
- TV-Pucken Playoffs Most Assists (8)
- J20 SM Gold Medal
- J20 SuperElit (Overall) Most Points by U17 Junior (30)
- J20 SuperElit (Top) Most Points (23)
- U18 WJC Gold Medal
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
(Editor’s note: the website from which we retrieve SuperElit shot data is currently undergoing maintenance. We will add the shot numbers once they become available.)
Holmstrom is primarily a playmaker but does have the ability to create offence in many ways.
He combines his vision, passing abilities, and anticipation to create magic in the offensive zone. The Tranas-born winger is particularly strong at finding the seams in defensive coverage and exploiting them with direct, crisp passes to open teammates. At times, it can feel like he is trying to force the play, but it’s clear that he sees the gap there and is just trying to make things happen.
Holmstrom is able to create plays from a static position or at pace. He’s a very good skater, having excellent acceleration and well-above-average top speed. He is particularly strong at generating speed through the neutral zone, forcing defenders to retreat, allowing him to attack along the side.
He always seems to have his head up, looking to find his teammates in the zone, and then smartly gets the puck through his check to those teammates.
His shot is decent and doesn’t have intimidating velocity; that’s the one area in which he needs to improve in the offensive zone. Instead, his shooting strategy is more about getting the shot off quickly to beat netminders, and relying on his accuracy with the puck. His ability to keep his head up while looking for passes applies here as well; he waits goalies out, staring them down before popping it into an open area.
As with most younger wingers, there is room for improvement on the defensive side of the game. He appears to be good at reading the play in the defensive zone, but at times can lose his check. There aren’t major concerns in this area, but it is merely something that could use improvement. That likely comes with a move up to the SHL next season.
In the following clip, Holmstrom demonstrates his willingness to apply pressure on the backcheck.
In the admittedly limited viewings I had on Holmstrom, he appeared to have been a regular on the penalty kill at the SuperElit level.
Holmstrom isn’t a physical player that goes after hits, but he isn’t afraid to mix it up along the boards. He is noticeable in his willingness to use his body to protect the puck, keeping the puck a few feet in front of him on the wall so that he can distance himself and use his body to engage his opponent.
Overall, there is a lot to like about his game. He often relies on his playmaking abilities to create chances, but can also use his shot to bury them. His skating is technically good and allows him to push the pace while he utilizes his awareness and stickhandling abilities to deceive opponents.
Since Holmstrom was limited in the games played this season, it can be hard to grasp the full picture of his potential. He was productive in the games that he played in, but was limited in overall volume of games.
In 21 games with HV71 J20, he posted seven goals and thirteen assists. That production gives us the following output from the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System:
In case this is the first time you’ve come across cohort results from a prospect primarily playing in the SuperElit league, there are some extra things to take note of. First, the SuperElit is relatively young in its status as a prominent NHL feeder league, meaning that success projections are sometimes suppressed by matches that played at a time when the Swedish junior league provided fewer NHL caliber prospects than it does now.
Furthermore, it’s common for top Swedish junior players to have a big role with their U20 team and then come up to the SHL and play a minor role. Holmstrom saw one game with HV71 in the SHL and only played 7:58 that night. He likely would have had more opportunity at the pro level had he been healthier.
Although the 10.3% likelihood of success is nowhere near the leaders of this draft class, it shouldn’t turn you away from him as a player.
His underlying numbers in terms of goals-for percentage were extremely positive with a GF% of 72.2% and GF%rel of +18.4%, indicating that HV71 fared far better in goal share when Holmstrom was on the ice compared to when he wasn’t.
Aside from Zion Nybeck, each of those players maintained better GF% with him than without him.
He was far and away the best producer based relative to his ice time. Interestingly enough, his estimated time on ice (eTOI) at five-on-five play was only 10.4 minutes per game, so he appeared to be making the most of the ice-time afforded to him (a small sample size could be at work here, though, and of course SuperElit does not make official time on ice available).
Presently, Holmstrom is typically ranked in the mid-second round, with some public rankings leaving him completely off their lists altogether. He probably lands closer to the early parts of the second round because of how proficient of a playmaker he is. Some point to his injuries this season as being a concern, but as they were all unrelated and don’t appear to have any lasting effects, they could in fact be suppressing his true value.
Personally, I would feel comfortable taking him anywhere in the 30’s and wouldn’t be surprised if he continued to trend towards being a legitimate top-six prospect. He has the size to compete at the pro level, and outside of the top 10 picks, there aren’t many players in this draft class that have the same combination of skating, playmaking and awareness that Holmstrom possesses.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com, SHL.se and swe.hockey.se.
Check out Simon Holmstrom’s Prospect Shifts page here (paywall).
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
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