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By the Numbers Prospects: Axel Holmstrom

Highs and lows mark first full season in North America for young Swede

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

By the Numbers will highlight the on-ice accomplishments in the 2017-18 season for the Detroit Red Wings' prospects. Twice a week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player in the system, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on center Axel Holmstrom.

In Red Wings lore, the name Holmstrom will forever hold a special spot in the hearts of many of the Detroit faithful.

Tomas Holmstrom was a guts-and-glory player who blended toughness and a unique skill set to establish himself as the NHL's premier net-front player.

So when the Red Wings drafted Axel Holmstrom in the 2014 NHL Draft, they made two things clear; Holmstrom was not related to Tomas, but he did possess a nose for the net, a keen hockey sense and he wasn't afraid to mix it up in the greasy areas to create offense.

Since he was drafted by Detroit, the 6-foot-1, 219-pound center has dealt with two knee surgeries and a lengthy rehab.

Because of his knee issues, Holmstrom's North American debut was delayed for a year, but he finally made it to the Grand Rapids Griffins late in the 2016-17 season, appearing in seven regular-season games and four playoff games during the Griffins' 2017 Calder Cup championship run.

This past season was Holmstrom's first full season playing in North America, and there was a distinct learning curve. He was scrappy, but he needed to adjust to the speed of the game.

66 - Number of games Holmstrom played for the Griffins during his rookie campaign.

7 - Holmstrom scored seven goals, which was third best among Griffins rookies. Filip Hronek led Grand Rapids rookies with 11 goals and Dominik Shine was second with eight.

26 - Total number of points Holmstrom accumulated, ranking him second in rookie scoring behind Hronek's 39 points. His point total was also 10th best on the Griffins.

19 - Holmstrom's assist total, which was sixth most on Grand Rapids.

196 - Drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Holmstrom was the 196th player selected.

4 - Despite being a gritty player, Holmstrom had only four penalty minutes during the season, the lowest total among Griffins regulars.

-11 - Holmstrom's plus-minus rating. Along with forward Matthew Ford, the minus-11 was the highest on the team.

3 - After not missing a regular season game due to injury, Holmstrom missed the Griffins' last three playoff games when he was blindsided by Manitoba's Buddy Robinson in Game 2 of the Central Division semifinals in Winnipeg. Holmstrom was diagnosed with a concussion. Robinson received a two-game suspension for the hit.

Quotable: "It was kind of an up-and-down year for Axel. He's a really good player with good hockey sense. The main hurdle for him was the speed of the game. His skating has to improve. He's had two knee surgeries, which have set him back. If he is able to gain one or two extra steps, he could be a very potent player in the American Hockey League." - Griffins coach Todd Nelson

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