On Tuesday, the New York Rangers gave permission to prospect Vitali Kravtsov to contact other clubs about the possibility of a trade. Cool. How does that relate to the New York Islanders and even Oliver Wahlstrom exactly?
For that, we have to go all the way back to the 2018 draft. Armed with the ninth overall pick at that draft, the Rangers reached (slightly) to pick Vitali Kravtsov instead of Wahlstrom, who was the higher-ranked pick. McKenzie had Wahlstrom ranked 9th while Kavtsov was 12th.
The Islanders, as you certainly already know, stepped up and took Wahlstrom two picks later (eleventh overall). And while Kravtsov is out searching for a new NHL club, Wahlstrom is blooming into the player he was billed as at the draft.
New York Islanders Oliver Wahlstrom was right about New York Rangers
So how was Wahlstrom “right” about the Rangers exactly? Well, shortly after the draft, Wahlstrom was asked about the other New York team passing on him, and his quote from 2018 resonates pretty loudly now:
"“I think the New York Rangers made a mistake there,” Wahlstrom said after the team’s first day of prospect development camp on Long Island"
Of course, the Rangers organization and their fans won’t openly admit that they made a mistake by passing on Wahlstrom. That’s fine. Both are proud of the organization, as they should be. And look, it took a bit for Wahlstrom himself to make the NHL.
Remember that first post-draft year when he played for Boston University? Remember the underwhelming 19 points in 36 games? Or what about that not-so-productive 2019-20 season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers where he scored 22 points in 45 games?
But now there’s no looking back for Wahlstrom and his NHL career. He’s still adapting his game to this defense-first system (like any 21 year old would), but he’s done everything right and impressed along the way.
And sure, it might be a bit early for this chat. But Wahlstrom already has more NHL points than Kravtsov has games played….so. Yeah.
Comparing where the players are now and what the organizations that drafted them got from their prospects (so far), it’s clear that Wahlstrom was right. The Rangers made a mistake.