EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- Simon Holmstrom knew he'd hear his name called at the 2019 NHL Draft but said it came sooner than he expected.
"Maybe early second round or late first round," said the 18-year-old forward, who was selected in the first round (No. 23) by the New York Islanders on June 21. "But not that high."
It's not because Holmstrom doesn't believe in himself -- he said he tries to model his game after former NHL all-stars Peter Forsberg and Pavel Datsyuk -- but rather because of injuries that limited him to 21 games with HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League, where he still almost managed a point per game (seven goals, 13 assists).
"I didn't play as much games as everyone else did," Holmstrom said at Islanders development camp in June. "I played like 20 games [last] season. But I'm really happy to be here."
Video: Islanders draft F Simon Holmstrom No. 23
Holmstrom missed the start of last season after having hip surgery, then injured his thumb shortly after his return. But he said during Islanders development camp, held the week of June 24, they're in the past.
"No problems at all," he said. "I'm all healthy."
Holmstrom (6-foot-1, 194 pounds) helped Sweden win the 2019 Under-18 World Championships with six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games, including a goal in the final against Russia.
He joins a group of talented forward prospects in New York that includes Oliver Wahlstrom, the No. 11 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, and Kieffer Bellows, who was selected 19th in the 2016 NHL Draft. The chance to skate with them at development camp, along with the Islanders' unexpected run to the Eastern Conference Second Round last season, has Holmstrom eager for the future.
"I know they had a great year this year and went a long way in the Stanley Cup [Playoffs]," Holmstrom said. "They have good guys coming up in the organization. I've heard a lot of great things about the organization and staff as well. I'm very excited."
But Holmstrom knows he'll have to continue to hone his skills and make some adjustments if he plans on playing in the NHL someday.
"The game here is a little bit different from Sweden," Holmstrom said. "I think I have to play more north-south and drive the net harder and play a bit tougher.
"I like when it's a hard game. I think I play better when it's a harder game."
That was on display during two scrimmages the Islanders held during their development camp, which included a goal by Holmstrom on the final day before he headed back to Sweden.
"I think I matched up pretty good," Holmstrom said. "I know I have more in me to give and I know I can [be] much better. I think it was an OK camp and I just have more to give. I'm really looking forward to it.
"It has been perfect. Just really awesome, and I learned a lot. I'm really grateful for being here."
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