The first thing you notice about Arvid Holm is his size. At 6-4 and 205 pounds, the 21-year-old from Sweden is hard to miss. But the big man certainly gets around his crease with ease, showing off the kind of agility and athleticism needed to be a modern-day professional goaltender.
Now the question is how quickly Holm might move up the depth chart within the Winnipeg Jets organization?
"It’s been a steady curve upwards. I feel I improve each year and matured into the pro game back home," Holm said Sunday following the fourth day of pro minicamp at Bell MTS Iceplex. "I was given great opportunities back home to play a lot of games, which you can’t take for granted. I’m very thankful of that. I feel like I’m ready to come over here and play a lot of games as well."
Holm has been somewhat out of sight, out of mind around here since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL draft. He attended summer development camp that summer, then flew back to Sweden to play one more year of junior. He remained in his home country for the past three seasons, playing at the pro level, but decided the time was now right to head overseas.
With Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie up with the Jets, and Mikhail Berdin a lock to be the No. 1 guy with the Manitoba Moose, Holm may have to play a bit of a waiting game this season. Does he slot in as the backup behind Berdin, or does that role go to 26-year-old journeyman Philippe Desrosiers, signed by the organization to an AHL deal earlier this summer? If so, perhaps Holm is dispatched to the ECHL — the Jets don’t currently have their own affiliate — to get up to speed with the North America, the way Berdin was in his rookie season a couple years ago.
"I’m trying to not think about it. I let the coaches do that job," Holm said of where the chips may fall. "I’m trying to come in and learn as much as I can during camp and show what I’ve learned during the years I’ve been back in Sweden. If you play good, you’ll usually play a lot of games. I try to go by that."
He’s expecting a bit of an adjustment playing on the smaller ice, where the players and pucks come at you a lot faster.
"Guys are always closer to you it feels like. Just when we do the shooting drills here in practice, even when they miss the net you have to react very fast to where the puck is going," said Holm. "You can’t really look around you or see the other threats. You have to almost chase the puck a bit more, I feel. It’s fun as well. You don’t have time to think, which is obviously a good thing for a goalie usually. I try to see it as a positive.
Holm has tried to model his game after countryman Henrik Lundqvist, the surefire future Hall of Famer just announced his retirement after an illustrious 15-year career.
"Just a guy you looked up to. I feel like the older I got, the more respect you got for him. Just how big of a competitor he is, almost a born winner it seems like. The older I got, the older he got, I felt like I gained more respect for him and kind of try to go after what he’s done," he said.
Another keeper he’s kept a close eye on is Hellebuyck, the 2020 Vezina Trophy winner.
"I’ve looked at him for a few years and how technically good he is," he said. "I’m a pretty big guy, so I try to use that, but I also don’t want to rely on that too much. I try to have active hands and read the play as good as I can. When I have to, I try to be as athletic as possible and work after that."
Holm will move on to main camp with the Jets starting Thursday, where the quality of shooters he’s facing will take a noticeable jump. He’s excited to test himself against the best in the world and — to use his own words — make a name for himself.
"It’s going to be huge and fun," he said. "We don’t really have training camps back home. We have a long preseason, but no training camp. It’s my first time and I feel like all the guys have said it’s a lot of fun and very competitive. I’ll try and get on their level in the competitiveness and go from there."
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.