During his first real stint in the NHL, Oliver Wahlstrom impressed putting up 12 goals in just 44 games for New York Islanders. Even more impressive was the fact that he was getting just 12:23 of ice time per night on average while doing this.
Most Islander fans are optimistic about Oliver Wahlstrom going into his second full year in the league and for good reason. he was on a 22 goal pace as a 20-year-old with limited minutes.
I’ve seen predictions all over the board for the Isles’ young forward going into 2021-2022. Some would be satisfied with a 20 goal season from Wahlstrom, while others on the more optimistic side see him reaching that 30 goal potential.
Well, I tried to project what he will do next year based on growth from other forwards from year one into year two.
I was looking at rookies whose first year was in 2016-2017 or more recent and close to Wahlstrom in age to see what their goals per game looked like in their rookie year to their sophomore season.
Here are some of the comparables that I found and what they did (Oliver Wahlstrom was at .27 goals/g in 2020-2021 as a rookie):
Pierre Luc Dubois (19) – .24 goals/g (rookie) – .33 goals/g (sophomore)
Mikko Rantanen (20) – .27 goals/g (rookie) – .36 goals/g (sophomore)
Brady Tkachuk (19) – .31 goals/g (rookie) – .30 goals/g (sophomore)
Mathew Barzal (20) – .27 goals/g (rookie) – .21 goals/g (sophomore)
William Nylander (20) – .27 goals/g (rookie) – .24 goals/g (sophomore)
Clayton Keller (19) – .28 goals/g (rookie) – .17 goals/g (sophomore)
Sebastian Aho (19) – .29 goals/g (rookie) – .37 goals/g (sophomore)
Mitch Marner (19) – .25 goals/g (rookie) – .27 goals/g (sophomore)
Artturi Lehkonen (21) – .25 goals/g (rookie) – .18 goals/g (sophomore)
Jake DeBrusk (21) – .23 goals/g (rookie) – .4 goals/g (sophomore)
These 10 players averaged out to .283 goals per game in their sophomore season in the league. That would be a pace of 23 goals over a full 82 game season. When looking at the change from rookie to sophomore year, that number is a little different.
On average these players increased their goals per game by .017 from their first year into their second year. So if you add that .017 to Oliver Wahlstrom’s .27 from last season, that would put him on pace for 24 goals over a full season.
I guess what I’m trying to say is maybe temper expectations. Yes, I think eventually Oliver Wahlstrom could be a 30 goal scorer in this league, he’s talented enough to do so. I’m just not so sure if he would do it in his second year in the league at age 21.
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Plus, if he’s playing third-line minutes that may be more difficult as most of the guys listed above were getting top-six style of minutes. Wahlstrom should take a step forward this year, it might just not be as big of a leap as some are expecting.