ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Training camp will determine where Linus Soderstrom and Jakub Skarek play this season, though both European goalie prospects say they believe it will be in the Islanders’ system in North America.
That’s a concern for later this month, however. Right now, all either wants is to see as many pucks as possible, either in practices or games.
The two split the netminding duties in Wednesday night’s prospects’ game against the Flyers at PPL Center.
“I hope I would stay here for the season,” said the 19-year-old Skarek, a Czech who played in Finland last season. “It all depends on camp. I think I am not going back to Finland. I will do my best here to show that I am ready.”
Skarek relieved Soderstrom at 12:30 of the second period after Soderstrom allowed three goals on 20 shots. Skarek, picked in the third round in 2018, was beaten from the right circle by David Kase on the first shot he saw.
Soderstrom, a 23-year-old Swede selected in the fourth round in 2014, missed all of last season with a lower-body injury and also limited to 14 games the previous season with a separate lower-body injury.
But Soderstrom, like Skarek, participated in the Islanders’ summer development camp.
“Missing a whole year, that’s not good even though there were some things I had to correct back home,” Soderstrom said. “In that respect, it was a very good year for me and my body. Every practice you’re back here, it’s very worthwhile. Every practice, every puck is an opportunity to show off yourself and it’s an opportunity to take advantage of it.
“I think that the hockey part has improved,” Soderstrom added. “I feel a little more into it now compared to coming over to the development camp. There’s still a long way to go. It’s going to take a really long while before I get to where I want to be. I’ve just got to be patient with that.”
Christopher Gibson will likely be the starter for the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport and minor-league veteran Jared Coreau is also in the system. There are two spots available for the ECHL affiliate in Worcester.
Soderstrom, citing his contract with the Islanders, said returning to Europe is not a consideration. His best save on Wednesday came when he stretched out in the crease to stop a second-period chance by Joel Farabee, the 14th overall pick in 2018, at the left post.
Skarek said he’s comfortable playing on the smaller North American rinks after a season in Finland.
“In Finland, they are playing on the smaller rinks,” Skarek said. “It was not a big change for me.”