Today The Athletic’s Corey Pronman released his top prospects under the age of 23 today (subscription required). Not just the ones in the New York Islanders system but the top U-23 players in the NHL. And Oliver Wahlstrom ranked near the bottom.
The Isles first-round pick in 2019 and eleventh overall pick and look that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wahlstrom is ranked around a guy like Joe Veleno and below a player like Vitali Kravtsov. A ranking that doesn’t necessarily add up.
Wahlstrom will exceed that expectation in 2021-22.
New York Islanders Oliver Wahlstrom will exceed expectation
Veleno spent the year split between the SHL, AHL, and NHL, scoring 24 points in a combined 55 games through those three levels. Kravstov split the year with Chelyabinsk in the KHL and the Rangers scoring 28 points in a combined 69 games.
Meanwhile, Oliver Wahlstrom spent the year on a Stanley Cup contender where he scored 12 goals and 21 points with just under twelve and a half minutes of ice-time.
Now look, I know that Pronman isn’t suggesting that Wahlstrom can’t be better than these players, but he does feel that currently, his ceiling is lower. I’m not sure that is the case.
Already, Wahlstrom is disproving that narrative. Again, he put up 12 goals in a very reduced role on a team that prioritizes playing a strong defensive game. Something that hasn’t necessarily been Wahlstrom’s strength. But he’s adapted, learned how to do what Barry Trotz wants from him, and he’s becoming a better player for it.
Again, Wahlstrom scored 12 goals and 21 points in 44 games last year. That’s a pace of 22 goals and 39 points. For a rookie, who was averaging 12:23 of ice time in 2020-21 those are some decent numbers.
This year Wahlstrom will undoubtedly take a big step forward. His ice-time will surely go up in 2021-22 as he takes works towards playing in a consistent top-six role. And with that, a jump in production will come.
Wahlstrom is exactly what the Islanders need. A volume shooter who can score from just about anywhere with an elite shot. You’ll see Wahlstrom will show us this year, his second year in the league, that he can be a top-six player by the end of the season.