Andreas Holmqvist was a second round pick, 61st overall, of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2001 Entry Draft. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Holmqvist is in his rookie season in North America. The 22-year-old defenseman was considered to be competing for a roster spot with the Lightning going into camp, but instead finds himself in the minor leagues working on his game.
In 50 games with the ECHL Pensacola Ice Pilots this year, Holmqvist has three goals and 25 assists and is +4. He has also played four games at the AHL level with Hamilton in which he was scoreless.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Holmqvist following Pensacola’s 4-1 loss to division rival Gwinnett on Friday.
HF: You didn’t really expect to be in Pensacola this season, but how do you think it has worked out for you?
AH: I think it worked out good. It’s hard for me and I think European players overall to adjust to the game over here. I think it’s been a very good experience for me learning the hockey.
HF: Are you playing the way that you want to play with this team?
AH: Yeah, I’m learning defensively here. I still want to play offensive, but you have to be as good defensively as offensively.
HF: What specifically has been tough with the adjustment to North America?
AH: You don’t have as much time with the puck. That’s been the biggest adjustment. The ice surface back home is so big and it’s smaller here.
HF: What do you think you’re doing well this year?
AH: I don’t know, I’m trying to have fun. Learning to play this game over here and bulk up a little bit for next season and just go from there.
HF: Are there particular aspects of your game that you think you need to work on?
AH: It’s just defense. I talk to Tampa about everything and they want me to work on defense and I do that here and it works out good.
HF: How would you describe your game to those who haven’t seen you play?
AH: Typical European I would say. I’m a good skater, very good stickhandling and use my head pretty often.
HF: Tonight you played mostly with (Jeremy) Van Hoof, is he your usual defensive partner?
AH: Yeah, I’ve played with him all season and it’s working out very good. When you’ve been playing with one guy all the time you know him after a while. We’re working good together.
HF: What makes it a good combination?
AH: He’s very good defensively. He’s even good offensively. As long as you talk out there, you help each other, that’s the way the combination is good.
HF: You play on the power play, do you ever play on the penalty kill as well?
AH: Not that much. I’m having fun playing on the power play. Of course I would like to play the penalty kill, but it doesn’t matter as long as the guys work hard out there and kill it off.
HF: How has it been living in the US, has that part been a big adjustment?
AH: No, it’s nice. Florida is really nice compared to home. I mean Sweden is nice too, but it’s cold at this time of year.
HF: Does your family like it here?
AH: Yeah, very much. Of course you get homesick sometimes when you miss the food and friends, but you make new friends and that’s what you have to do to be a hockey player.
HF: What else do you want to accomplish this season, for yourself and your team?
AH: We’ve been playing good. Hopefully we’re going to get to the playoffs and win a trophy there. That would be really really nice.
HF: And what do you want to accomplish next season?
AH: First of all work hard in the summer and come to the camp prepared. Hopefully it’s not going to be in a lockout. Bulk up and come prepared.
HF: How much weight to you hope to gain?
AH: Probably five kilos. I’m at 90 right now.
HF: I don’t know how much that is in pounds.
AH: I don’t know either (laughs). About 200 I think.