Axl Holmstrom (Skelleftea AIK/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)
Axel Holmstrom could be the next big Red Wings late-round steal. The 18-year-old broke the Sedin twins’ playoff point-scoring record for juniors in the SHL this past season and led all post-season scorers with seven goals and 18 points in 15 games.
As soon as one star leaves, it always seems as though the Red Wings have another to step in to take their spot. The next big thing in Detroit could be on his way soon, as Detroit announced they have agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level deal with center Axel Holmstrom.
Holmstrom – no relation to Red Wings great Tomas – was drafted by Detroit in 2014 and, in somehow typical Red Wings fashion, wasn’t selected until the seventh round, 196th overall. At 18, Holmstrom played against the men in the SHL this past season, scoring 10 goals and 20 points in 44 games, but it was his post-season play that really has Red Wings fans salivating.
In 15 playoff games with Skelleftea, Holmstrom scored seven goals and 18 points. Not only is that quite the impressive showing from a junior player suiting up against men, it’s a record-setting mark. Holmstrom’s 18 points are four better than the totals put up by Daniel and Henrik Sedin when they were junior players in Sweden. His 18 points weren’t just the most ever by a junior player, though; Holmstrom actually led all post-season scorers in 2014-15.
Holmstrom’s play this post-season helped Skelleftea to the SHL final. In the final, Skelleftea dropped the best-of-seven series to Vaxjo in six games, losing the deciding contest in double overtime. Over the six-game series, Holmstrom scored one goal and five points.
"He's smart, gritty, competitive, likes to go to the front of the net," Red Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive.com’s Ansar Khan. "He has good hands and hockey sense. He needs to work on his skating. (Red Wings scout) Hakan Andersson really likes him. He's trending upwards."
For his efforts this past season, Holmstrom was named the Swedish junior player of the year.
Holmstrom has also represented Sweden internationally, appearing at the 2015 World Junior Championship. In seven games at the tournament, Holmstrom notched one goal and seven points.
If Holmstrom’s level of play continues to trend upwards, the Red Wings could, yet again, have another late-round steal starring in their lineup.