The New York Islanders made another move outside the Toronto bubble as they have sent Oliver Wahlstrom to AIK (Allsvenskan) in Sweden. Less than a week ago, the Islanders sent former first-round pick Simon Holmstrom to the Swedish Hockey League as their season will begin before the American Hockey League’s (AHL) does.
Wahlstrom was a first-round pick back in 2018, where New York selected Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson back-to-back. Since being drafted out of Boston College, Wahlstrom has spent a bit of time in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2018-19 before playing in 45 games the following season. He also had his first call-up to the NHL and played in nine games where the Islanders went 8-0-1 with him in the lineup.
His NHL debut came against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions in the St. Louis Blues.
It was a dream come true, Wahlstrom said. ” Getting that phone call was unbelievable. It was pretty humbling to pack up the car and head to Long Island. It was probably the best feeling ever.”
While he didn’t register any points in the NHL, he made an impact on both the five-on-five and the man advantage. Wahlstrom also had a career-high three shots on goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets and showed off his physical play by throwing the body on every shift. In the AHL, he played on a very poor defensive team, which led to his minus-16, but he displayed his offensive skills with ten goals and 22 points.
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He had the opportunity to play alongside fellow first-round picks in Kieffer Bellows and Simon Holmstrom. Wahlstrom also had a chance to make the postseason roster with expanded playoff rosters, but the Islanders left off their young rookie to save a year on his entry-level contract. New York has not needed Wahlstrom so far in this playoffs. However, they would have had the chance to practice with the team like Ilya Sorokin is doing after coming over from the KHL and could potentially be the future of the team with Wahlstrom.
AIK has a rich history of success as they have been around for 98 years and have won seven Le May Trophies. In 52 games this year, they sat in fourth place with a record of 27-20 and 90 points before the season ended. AIK also added another top-prospect to their team in 19-year-old Victor Söderström. The former first-round pick was selected at 11 by the Arizona Coyotes in 2019 and will quickly be a top defenseman in the league.
Wahlstrom, who will likely see plenty of ice time, has experience playing internationally, as he played on the World Juniors with Team USA for consecutive years and had nine points in 12 games.
It would be no surprise to see Wahlstrom take his game to the next level in this league. His opportunity came quicker than expected this season due to a rash of injuries but could use some more time to develop. The Islanders have had a plethora of young first-round draft picks not work out.
“He’s a young player who’s got loads of skill and he’s gotten this far on loads of skill. Now he’s got to learn the game,” said Head Coach Barry Trotz. “At every level he’s been a talent, he’s been the biggest, strongest sort of the most talented guy. Well, no one has really taught him the game for the most part.”
Wahlstrom has the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL as he has a terrific shot. The more experience he can get, the better the Islanders will be as they are entirely out of their rebuild and are contenders for the Stanley Cup.