The NHL’s most event-packed week of the off-season was mostly successful for the New York Islanders. Beginning with the NHL Awards and ending with the Draft, fans had plenty to talk about all week.
With the season the Islanders had, it’s no surprise the team was so well-represented at the NHL Awards on Wednesday, June 19. Thomas Greiss, Robin Lehner, and Barry Trotz were all in attendance. Greiss and Lehner were officially presented the Jennings Trophy, and Trotz won the Jacks Adams Award. Lehner also won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by an almost unanimous vote and placed third for the Vezina Trophy. In his acceptance speech, Lehner expressed how much the award meant to him in his battle with mental health and personal demons and his effort to end the stigma against mental health. A year after publicizing his struggles, Lehner continues to be an inspiration.
“I am not ashamed to say I am mentally ill, but that does not make me mentally weak,” he proclaimed.
2019 NHL Entry Draft
With the 23rd pick in the First Round of the NHL Draft on Friday, June 21, the New York Islanders selected Simon Holmstrom, a Swedish right winger. While the pick was a shock because Holmstrom was not expected to go in the first round in most mock drafts, he does seem to fit with the Islanders’ new system very well. He also fills a need, since the Isles are short on right wingers and centers.
Holmstrom told interviewers that he models his game after Peter Forsberg and Mathew Barzal. According to scouting reports Holmstrom likes to shoot the puck, knows how to control play, and is an exceptional skater. He was initially ranked much higher than his final expectations, but injuries hindered his last season. Playing only 21 games, Holmstrom scored 20 points (7 goals, 13 assists). EliteProspects praises Holmstrom for his underrated two-way game, good hands, and impressive puck handling skills.
As Barry Trotz told the media, “What our scouts are saying is he’s got a really good release, lots of quickness, really good hockey IQ. When you’re watching him and Barzal walking together, hopefully, they’ll play together someday.”
Only time will tell whether he is exactly what the Islanders need or whether he will languish in Bridgeport like so many other promising prospects. To his credit, Holmstrom said in interviews at the Draft that he knows he must focus on strength-training in the gym since he will be playing against men.
He added, “Hopefully, I’ll be a man soon.” Holmstrom is, after all, 6’1” and only 192lb.
Besides his awareness of his weaknesses, Holmstrom gave Isles fans exactly what they wanted to hear — when asked what New York can expect from him, he replied, “To score lots of goals and hope to lift the Stanley Cup.”
Featured Image: New York Islanders/NHL