by Sam Fryman and Alan Fuehring | AHL On The BeatSimon Holmstrom takes the ice at Webster Financial institution Enviornment with the kind of confidence that betrays his precise age. He’s solely 18 -– and holds the excellence of being the youngest participant to ever go well with up for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers -– however he doesn’t act prefer it.Holmstrom is often one of many final gamers off the ice on apply days, continually engaged on his wrist shot that scouts say is amongst his most deadly weapons. He actually has the expertise, ability and drive that led to the New York Islanders choosing him 23rd total in final June’s NHL Draft, however the teenager is aware of he has to work more durable than ever to achieve the subsequent stage, therefore the additional hours on the rink.He’s quiet, however not shy. When requested whether or not he has the arrogance to play in North America this season, Holmstrom was blunt.“In fact, in any other case I wouldn’t have come right here,” Holmstrom mentioned. “I don’t suppose the workers and the group would let me come right here in the event that they knew I wasn’t prepared for it.”The Islanders selected Holmstrom with their first choose in Vancouver final summer season, making the Tranas, Sweden, native one in all 4 Swedes taken within the opening spherical. It was the fun of a lifetime for the teenager.“I believe I went by the entire feelings,” Holmstrom mentioned, grinning extensively. “From nervous and anxious to pure pleasure. It was an incredible expertise and one thing I’ll always remember.”One of many largest causes that the Islanders chosen Holmstrom was as a result of his silky-smooth skating potential and fast arms for scoring. However additionally they selected him for his velocity, with the NHL, AHL and different leagues everywhere in the world shifting to a sooner sport. The quickness of the North American model hasn’t shocked Holmstrom and continues to work on adjusting to a extra bodily sport.“It’s already a reasonably high-speed sport there [in Sweden], however right here everybody’s lots larger and actually sturdy in order that’s the largest half to determine,” Holmstrom mentioned.Holmstrom earned his first level with the Sound Tigers on Oct. 12 in a high-tempo street sport towards the Charlotte Checkers, aiding on fellow Islanders prospect Arnaud Durandeau’s first skilled aim. As was the case in coaching camp, the younger ahead is taking all of it in stride and making use of any classes he can the sport that consumes his time.“At the beginning, he’s an amazing child,” head coach Brent Thompson mentioned. “He’s a likeable man who desires to study and needs to get higher. General you see some actually constructive issues so far as his imaginative and prescient.”The Islanders chosen Simon Holmstrom 23rd total within the 2019 NHL Draft.(Photograph: Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures)Thompson is assured that Holmstrom can develop right into a top-six function because the 12 months goes on, although there’ll undoubtedly be some rising pains.“He makes these refined little passes that lots of people most likely don’t discover, however our workforce and our workers discover on a regular basis,” Thompson mentioned. “He matches in very properly with our group. The fellows sort of take a look at him like he’s their little brother.”Hockey is all that Holmstrom has ever wished to be concerned in. Simon’s father Jonas additionally grew up across the sport, enjoying for his hometown workforce, Tranas AIF, in Sweden’s high division for a decade. Jonas scored practically 350 profession factors earlier than turning into an assistant coach within the Swedish Hockey League for Simon’s membership every of final two years.Whereas his dad is the largest mentor and motivator at dwelling, Holmstrom has discovered many leaders and buddies to lean on with the Sound Tigers as properly. One participant that could be very acquainted with Holmstrom’s worldwide transfer is 23-year-old defenseman Sebastian Aho, who came visiting from Sweden previous to the 2017-18 marketing campaign.“He doesn’t want a lot recommendation from me,” Aho mentioned. “On the ice, everyone can see how good of a participant he’s. He’s already received the uncooked expertise and want that it takes to play properly over right here. I’m excited to see him develop and take steps ahead each day.”Maybe Aho can higher help off the ice, serving to to ease the transition to residing in North America. In spite of everything, Holmstrom remains to be nearer to his highschool commencement than having the ability to hire a automotive -– and shifting throughout the Atlantic is a transition for a participant of any age.“However in fact, I attempt to at all times be there for him and assist out and clarify issues that he doesn’t actually perceive but,” Aho added. “It’s simpler once we each converse the identical language.”Lots of Holmstrom’s veteran teammates have inspired the teenager to simply be himself and deal with constructing relationships inside the workforce. He’s additionally been instructed to get out and discover the northeast, making an attempt new meals and adapting to the American tradition –- though American meals has actually been one of many largest changes early on.“I’m a giant burger man, so perhaps I’ll should attempt some good burgers,” Holmstrom mentioned. “Possibly that can change into a very good luck attraction.”That’s all secondary for Holmstrom, who gained’t want Huge Mac luck if he continues to place within the hours on the rink. His focus is ready firmly on turning into a robust, regular power in Bridgeport’s ahead core.