Simon Holmstrom stepped onto the ice with his teammates on Sunday and felt a surge of emotion.
“Just happiness,” Holmstrom said. “Really happy to be back and play and do what I love.”
The Islanders’ first-round pick (23rd overall) this June rejoined his teammates for the third day of training camp in East Meadow after missing the first two practices and all of last week’s rookie camp because of a sore ankle.
Holmstrom blocked a shot while practicing with HV 71 of the Swedish Hockey League five days before he returned to the U.S. The right wing played one game apiece with the club in each of the last two seasons while battling hip and thumb injuries.
“Yeah, of course, it has been frustrating,” Holmstrom said. “I’ve been ready to get back and play. I got a shot on my ankle. Unlucky.”
Holmstrom had been skating on his own prior to Sunday and was held out of Saturday’s practice for an extra day as a precaution.
“I listen to them and they listen to me as well,” Holmstrom said. “We had a good conversation about it.”
Now, Holmstrom can formally begin his push to earn a roster spot. There is fierce competition to make the opening-night roster with 14 forwards back from last season and Oliver Wahlstrom, the 11th overall pick in 2018, vying for a job as well.
The soft-spoken Holmstrom is confident in his game, though.
“Just show how I play, what my game looks like and I hope to make it a bit hard for them,” Holmstrom said. “I think (I can) and I hope so.
Forward Tom Kuhnhackl remained off the ice for a third straight day with an unspecified issue that coach Barry Trotz has termed “day to day” . . . Sunday’s practices ended with Trotz and the coaching staff doing push-ups on the ice along with the players. “They gave me a number and I did that number plus 50 percent,” Trotz said. “I was feeling pretty good. The guys have been doing extra so I did some extra. We had some fun out there today…” Defenseman Mitch Vande Sompel has his left arm in a sling after going down hard in the crease on Friday.