NY Islanders: What does it mean if Oliver Wahlstrom rejects his qualifying offer?

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom is not yet under contract after the 23-year-old reportedly rejected the team's qualifying offer of $874,125. Wahlstrom had until 5 PM on Saturday to sign the qualifying offer or continue to work with the team on a new deal.

The restricted free agent (RFA) had signed a 3-year, $4.387M contract in 2019, which carried an AAV of $894,167, making the qualifying offer from the team actually slightly lower than his AAV cap hit the previous three seasons. Wahlstrom doesn't have much leverage in negotiations. After rejecting the offer, he now has until Dec. 1 to sign a new contract with the team or sit out the 2023-24 season.

The latter isn't going to happen.

Wahlstrom was recently linked in trade rumors involving star winger Alex DeBrincat and the Ottawa Senators. In the reported deal, Wahlstrom and center JG Pageau were the centerpieces of a package heading back to the Sens. Reports indicated the deal didn't entice Ottawa, but DeBrincat favored signing an extension with Detroit and signed an extension with the Red Wings after being dealt there last week.

It's possible that Wahlstrom could be included in other potential deals this summer as GM Lou Lamoriello pursues "hockey trades," but if he remains with the team, 2023-24 is shaping up as a turning point season in the 2018 1st-round picks career after scoring seven goals in 35 games last season before hurting his knee in December and being lost for the season.

"I thought I was making strides," Wahlstrom told the media on May 1st. "The first month was awesome, then a little bit of a dip, then I got right back up to where I was again. Then the injury happened. So for me, it’s about staying even-keeled. This injury, I look at it as a blessing."

Wahlstrom has had previous opportunities to play with Mathew Barzal but, despite flashes, was unable to demonstrate sustained success. His defensive play improved last season before the injury but he still relies on others to create space and make plays to set up his plus shot.