The SHL playoffs are underway, and Red Wings prospect Axel Holmstrom has come out of the gate with his offense surging against Frolunda. As many of you know, another Red Wings prospect, Christoffer Ehn, plays with Frolunda, so both youngsters have had the daunting task of going head-to-head — something not many future teammates get to do over in Europe.
Holmstrom has put up five points (3-2-5) in three games so far — impressive for the 20-year-old, who is now considered an SHL veteran. As it stands now, Holmstrom has put up 29 points (12-17-29) in his 28 playoff games in the SHL. It was only a couple of seasons ago did the former 7th-rounder make headlines as he scored at a historic rate in the 2014-2015 playoffs.
Patrik Bexell, a writer over at EOTP and Euro hockey guru caught up with Holmstrom and his coach to talk about being back in the playoffs, expectations, and other stuff. Listen to the raw audio:
While Holmstrom seems to have confidence in his game and continues to flourish for his team on a big stage, Skellefteå AIK head coach Stefan Clockare spoke about Holmstrom’s talent and how he’s responded after recovering from injuries:
You can't lose talent and Axel hasn't lost anything. He is stronger than ever. He has lacked a bit of match tempo and reading the situations right, and it takes time to get back into things after such a season that he has had with injuries, the future looks bright for him. It's fantastic to see him, and the whole line, produce like this and the over all play they produce.
Now, as many of you are probably wondering, when will Holmstrom make the move to North America? It’s likely he may come over after the SHL playoffs to join the Griffins as they make a push for the playoffs, but that remains to be seen. Playoff time isn’t exactly the best time to ask players or coaches about their plans to leave Europe for another league, but take note of this — Holmstrom signed a three-year contract with Skellefteå as a 17-year-old back in 2014. The Red Wings have expressed that they are comfortable with letting him develop at a high level in Sweden until they feel he’s ready to make the move. I’d say there is a good chance he spends another year or so in the SHL.
Either way, Holmstrom’s style of play will translate over to North American hockey quite well. He’s a strong two-way center who plays hard on the puck and goes to the net. While I don’t see him as a top-six guy, there’s plenty of room left for him to develop into a very special player.
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