The goals don't actually count at New York Islanders Mini Camp, but for the Isles prospects, getting one by Linus Soderstrom usually warrants a celebration.
It's no easy feat beating the 6'5 Swede, who turned heads with his banner year for HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League. Soderstrom, the Islanders' 2014 fourth-round pick, backstopped the SHL title this season - and his 1.34 goals-against average set an SHL record. Overall, Soderstrom went 18-4-0 in the regular season, with a 1.34 GAA, .943 SV% and six shutouts, before going 12-4 in the postseason.
"He's a heck of a goaltender and had a really good year in a really good league," Islanders Head Coach Doug Weight said.
Soderstrom took a big leap forward in his development last year - his first SHL season. It wasn't as easy as the numbers suggest, saying there was an adjustment period to playing in Sweden's top pro league, as well as playing for a new team, but developing a personal process made the biggest difference in his game.
"In the beginning I didn't really focus on the details too much until we really realized in October, November that this wasn't working out, we have to focus on the details, style of play, game play and what you want to accomplish out on the ice," Soderstrom said. "We set up more detail and a better plan and created better habits every day during the season and in the long run it showed results."
In other words, trust the process.
The Islanders signed Soderstrom to a three-year, entry-level deal on May 11, though he's preparing to play this season in Sweden after signing an extension with HV71 in March. Still, mini camp is a good week to get familiar with the Islanders and the North American game.
"It takes time to get into the style of play, the smaller ice, the faster pace than in Sweden," Soderstrom said. "I'm just trying to maintain things, repeat the memories, the saves, the details and try to prepare even more for when next season starts in Sweden."
It's also a chance for the Islanders to check in on Soderstrom.
"Nothing but excitement from our goaltending prospects that are overseas for certain," Weight said. Again, it's imperative that they feel the love, but they have to know how interested we are and how much we're watching them."
"We're beyond excited about the depth we have at that position."