The New York Islanders have one of the best farm systems in the NHL. A ton of that talent is converging on the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Here’s what their lineup could look like in 2019-20.
Last year, The Athletics Corey Pronman (subscription required) rated the New York Islanders farm system as the fifth strongest in the NHL. The key player in that system was the eleventh overall pick in 2018 Oliver Wahlstrom.
After a year playing with Boston College in the NCAA, Wahlstrom signed his ELC and made the jump to the professional ranks last season. The 2019-20 season will be his first full professional season as a hockey player.
A lot will be expected from the winger, thankfully, the lineup around him in the AHL will be equally talented.
Convergence of Talent
My expectation for Oliver Wahlstrom might not be the same as yours. In his short ten-game stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season, Wahlstrom scored seven points. My expectation is that he keep up that scoring pace.
Over a full 76 game AHL season, that’s 53 points. That might be a tad high, but Otto Koivula, in his first AHL season scored 46 points in 69 games. That’s 0.67 points per game pace. It’s fair to say that Wahlstrom should be a better player than Koivula. Wahlstrom should be able to match Koivula’s output from last season.
To get there Wahlstrom will be surrounded by a number of young and promising prospects in the New York Islanders system, like 2016 former fourth-round pick Otto Koivula. It’s likely that Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson pairs up some of his young attacking talents together on a line.
(Bolded players are Isles talented draftees on the Sound Tigers roster.)
That’s a lot of the Islanders future in Bellows, Koivula, and Wahlstrom growing and playing alongside one another in the AHL.
I don’t think they start as top-line players. Thompson likes to protect his youth behind veterans. But as the season progresses, and as they progress and develop they could easily jump up to the top of the roster.
And the talent doesn’t stop there. Arnaud Durandeau represents an extra attacking option if things get a bit stale among the three. On the back-end, Bode Wilde is a puck-moving blueliner that can create offense.
And who knows what happens with recent first-round pick Simon Holmstrom who just signed his entry-level contract with the New York Islanders. That could be yet another promising prospect within the roster.
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With all that talent in the AHL, I’m more excited than ever to see what the Bridgeport Sound Tigers can do this season. Hopefully, they can repeat their success from 2018-19 and return to the playoffs.