New York Islanders 2018-19 Player Grade: Oliver Wahlstrom
New York Islanders first round pick in 2018 Oliver Wahlstrom had an up and down 2018-19 season. But things ended on a promising note.
When he was drafted by the New York Islanders eleventh overall in last years NHL Entry Draft, Wahlstrom was seen as one of the top goal scorers in the draft. The Islanders were getting an incredible prospect for their system. One that would help elevate that system to fifth in the NHL according to Corey Pronman.
Committing to Boston College, Wahlstrom wasn’t going straight into the NHL after the draft. And that’s fine. Like Lou Lamoriello says: “its better a player coming up too late than too soon.”
Wahlstrom had already dominated every level of hockey he’s played leading up to the draft, he’d surely do the same at Boston College and give the Islanders something to consider for the 2019-20 NHL season.
Didn’t Go According To Plan
It was a rough go with Boston College. Wahlstrom didn’t have the impact we all thought he could have. In 38 games he scored 19 points. Someone with his talent level should have done better.
Early on in the season, we heard rumblings that Wahlstrom might leave Boston College. In November, the USHL that held his rights, the Tri-City Storm, added Wahlstrom to their roster in the hopes to have him play for them.
Clearly, something was up. In March, Arthur Staple reported (subscription required) that an amateur scout believed Wahlstrom just “didn’t look engaged” for BC. Not good.
When BC’s season came to an end, Wahlstrom signed his entry-level contract with the Islanders for the 2019-20 season and started playing for Bridgeport on a try-out. Who knew how it was going to go based on what happened with BC.
Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson for one was immediately thrilled to have Wahlstrom in his ranks:
"“(Wahlstrom’s) first practice, you see the skill set’s off the charts. I’m really excited to see him go, working with him, getting him where wants be, and where he has to be,” Thompson said."
Wahlstrom’s try-out went as well as possible. In five regular-season games, Wahlstrom scored three points. He followed that up with four points in five playoff games as the Sound Tigers bowed out in five games to the Hershey Bears.
It was a quick cameo in the AHL, but it’s safe to say that Wahlstrom redeemed himself after that rough start to the 2018-19 season.
Maybe the reason Wahlstrom didn’t seem to have a great time at Boston College is due to the fact that he just couldn’t immerse himself enough. Between October and March, he played 38 games for Boston College. He played ten games for the Sound Tigers in 25 days.
He wasn’t living and breathing hockey in College hockey like he was able to do in the AHL. He was playing, but the break between games may have been too much.
That’s not a knock on College hockey. But for Oliver Wahlstrom maybe that just wasn’t the ideal setup. If anything, it’s a knock on Wahlstrom. When the situation didn’t suit what he wanted his performances suffered.
His grade on the year is a not amazing, but still solid B. He’s still one of the Islanders better prospects. But his 2018-19 didn’t go that well.