Number 15 on our 25 Under 25 prospect list is Axel Holmstrom - no relation to either Nobel Prize winner Bengt Holmstrom or famed Red Wings forward Bengt Tomas Holmstrom*. He was selected by the Red Wings in the 2014 NHL Draft so has been on our radar for a while and he is under contract through the 2018/2019 season.
*it’s apparently a Swedish thing where people can have several names but one of them is prefered (the term is “tilltalsnamn”). Example: Carl Henrik Zetterberg.
Born: June 29th, 1996 (age 21)
Birthplace: Arvidsjaur, Sweden
Height/Weight: 6’0” / 198 lbs
Drafted: 2014, 7th Round, 196th Overall, Detroit Red Wings
His knee injury lead to some disappointment, but he still came to help the Griffins win the Calder Cup in style. This also doesn’t include his impressive stats from international competition representing his home country of Sweden. I don’t know what it is about international play but Holmstrom just shifts into a new gear and can’t be stopped. I hope he brings that energy with him to the AHL.
Axel Holmstrom has shown he has great potential to be an offensive threat, he also has great vision and isn’t afraid to dig into the corners and battle for the puck. He definitely can create scoring opportunities for both himself and his linemates. He has shown he has the scoring touch (fer sure), and he has no problem making himself at home in front of the net. He has also been praised for his work ethic and his commitment to improving, so it is no surprise he’s been trending upward and really finding his groove. He also does a decent job of staying out of the penalty box so far, and I for one hope he won’t be pressured into showing more “grit” when that isn’t really his style.
Holmstrom is not particularly quick, and his skating ability has improved but still needs work if he wants to keep up with NHLers. He certainly skates better than Homer, but the Wings are starting to get faster and he needs to keep improving. Luckily, he has the vision to know where to go so he doesn’t have to fly to get back in position, he just needs to make sure he can get to his spot on time.
There’s also some concern about injury with him, he has a history of knee injuries although he says the two recent injuries to the same knee weren’t actually the same part of the knee (which is good news) and that he feels 100% and ready to go. It’s something to keep an eye on because knees are tricky, but he’s young enough to bounce back without many problems.
He’s showing that he has consistent offensive production, which makes me think the concerns about his skating ability and “grit level” are overstated, but time will tell!
I would be very surprised to see Holmstrom on the top lines, however I think he could be a very great addition to the Red Wings third line - but not for a few years I’d guess. I’m excited to see what he does with the Griffins on a regular basis, but as always concerned about the log jam Ken Holland builds for young forwards trying to transition up to the Wings.
Holmstrom’s scoring touch could make our third line very dangerous, and the Wings are shaping up to be able to roll out four very different but very effective forward lines in the years ahead. I’m very interested to see how he improves in the next few years, we may just have found another Swedish gem at the bottom of the draft pile.
Let’s Go Red Wings!
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