The New York Islanders have signed their eleventh overall pick from the 2018 Draft Oliver Wahlstrom to a three-year entry-level deal as of 2019-2020. The Isles must be jubilant, and not thinking of any red flags.
New York Islanders prospect Oliver Wahlstrom’s 2018-19 season didn’t go exactly as planned. Wahlstrom was selected eleventh overall by the Islanders in the 2018 NHL Draft after 94 points across 62 games for the US U18 team.
Big things were expected of his first post-draft season. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman (subscription required) had Wahlstrom as a “high-end NHL prospect” in the Islanders system. A distinction that helped the Islanders jump into the top 5 of Pronman’s NHL team prospects pools.
But that’s not what took place for Wahlstrom this season. Playing for Boston College, Wahlstrom wasn’t as expected, scoring 19 points in 36 games.
But now that he’s officially turned pro, the Islanders should be ecstatic that he’ll be on board rather than thinking about the potential red flags.
No Red Flag
Today, Arthur Staple alluded to the possibility of a red flag with Wahlstrom’s one-and-done college career. I don’t think the Islanders see it the same way.
Nineteen points in 36 games isn’t a great return for a player that was taken just outside of the top ten in the NHL draft less than a year ago. But it’s clear something was going on at BC this season.
We all remember how rumors were swirling around Wahlstrom and his future with Boston college back in November. It got to the point where the USHL team that held his rights (Tri-City Storm) added him to the roster, just in case he became available. That’s how close it got.
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. Sure, a losing record at the time (BC was 3-5-1) didn’t help. But players don’t abandon ship with three-quarters of the season to play unless something isn’t right.
Wahlstrom wanted to leave and later did leave for a reason. Putting him in a situation like Bridgeport, with equally talented forward players like Josh Ho-Sang, Kieffer Bellow, Otto Koivula is going to give him a huge boost.
This is going to be a different Oliver Wahlstrom than we saw at BC.
Under Their Thumb
By signing a three-year ELC (taking effect as of 2019-20) with the New York Islanders there’s a likely ATO (AHL tryout) deal coming Wahlstrom’s way to play with the Sound Tigers this season. The Islanders must be beaming that he’s now in the fold.
Arguably it could have taken Wahlstrom three years to get to the NHL, or even go down the Jimmy Vessey route and just wait to become an unrestricted free agent. But the Islanders were able to get him under contract less than a year from the draft.
With Wahlstrom, the New York Islanders have a potentially elite shooter that’s now one step removed from playing in the NHL. More importantly, he’s now part of their system where they can groom him and develop him the way they want to.