NY Islanders: Oliver Wahlstrom still not himself after a long layoff

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils / Rich Graessle/GettyImages

After missing more than half of last season due to a torn ACL, NY Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom is on the road to a comeback as he looks to secure his place back in the lineup. 

At the start of training camp, Wahlstrom said he was approaching the season with an ‘F it’ attitude, ready to be the player the Islanders drafted 11th overall in 2018.

Wahlstrom has not been his usual self on the ice during pre-season and training camp, as it appears his position in the starting lineup is in no way solidified - in fact, he seems to be on the outside looking in at the moment. During yesterday’s practice, Wahlstrom split time on the third line with Hudson Fasching, playing alongside JG Pageau and Anders Lee. Today, he skated as an extra.

Coming off a major injury, it will take time for Wahlstrom to become comfortable with his surgically repaired knee. He appeared in four pre-season games, failing to score a goal on ten shots, adding one assist. His best performaance came in the 6-5 shootout against the NJ Devils, logging a team-high five shots.

"Obviously it's different," Wahlstrom told Ethan Sears of the NY Post following the Islanders' final pre-season game on Friday. "But slowly getting back into it. Just take it one day at a time."

With the Islanders season just four days away, it appears Wahlstrom will be watching the game from the press box. On the ice, he presents one of the Islanders' best scoring threats, but his body doesn't appear ready to take on that role.

“We’ve talked about it all training camp, he’s coming off a long layoff,” Lane Lambert said. “He’s getting up to game speed, he’s getting in situations that he can play in. To me, it looks like he’s still trying to find his way a little from a speed standpoint.”

Signing a one-year contract in the off-season, this may be Wahlstrom's final opportunity to prove he deserves to be an everyday top-6 forward for the Islanders. Otherwise, he could find himself on the trade block sooner rather than later.