Today, the Detroit Red Wings announced that they have signed prospect Axel Holmstrom (no relation to Tomas) to a three-year entry-level contract, in a press release this afternoon.
In 2013-14, his draft year, he scored 38 points in 33 games in the SuperElit league. This performance caught the eye of the Red Wings scouting department, and they selected him in the last round, 196th overall, a typical late-round draft gem.
Holmstrom played his first full season in the Swedish Hockey League this year, scoring 20 points (10 goals) in 44 games for Skelleftea after being promoted from the SuperElit Skelleftea J2Q team, of which he played a year ago, when he scored four points in three games. The SHL is the highest level of hockey in Sweden.
He elevated his game in the post-season, scoring 18 points in 15 games. After finishing first in the regular season with a 37-13-3-2 record, Skelleftea motored into the playoffs with two dominant rounds. They swept through Brynas 4-0, outscoring their opponent 17-7. In Round 2, they defeated Linkopings 4-1, outscoring by a total of 20-10. In the Finals, they fell to the Vaxjo Lakers 4-2. Holmstrom led all playoff scorers in assists and points, while only one player had more goals (8).
Additionally, he participated in the World Junior Championship, contributing a goal and six assists as Team Sweden reached the bronze medal game, falling to Team Slovakia 4-2.
He attended the Red Wings Prospect Development Camp last season. He trained alongside fellow prospects Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin as a member of Team Yzerman. His presence was noticeable early on if not only for the fact that he was wearing #96, the number that Tomas wore for the duration of his time with the organization.
I noted in my analysis last summer that he needed to work on his skating (he was the last to finish his wind sprint), but his strongest asset seemed to be his Tomas-like ability to deflect pucks while screening the netminder. He made contact with the pucks more times than not, but his stick skills aside from that were not overly impressive. However, his wrist shot was on-point.
Holmstrom described himself as a two-way center who likes to have the puck, and who is strong on the puck as well.
“It’s awesome. It’s the most Swedish team in the NHL,” said Holmstrom last summer. “I think it’s the most popular team in Sweden, so it’s an honor.”
He also mentioned that he liked to watch Henrik Zetterberg and how he plays.
It will be interesting to see how his team’s impressive playoff run has had on his overall game. He has much promise in this organization.