Oliver Wahlstrom won’t start his first full professional season in the NHL as Noah Dobson, his fellow 2018 first-rounder, will.
But the right wing believes he’ll contribute to the Islanders this season.
“For me, it’s just coming to the rink each day and working hard,” Wahlstrom said on Tuesday after practicing with the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “I’m not thinking about the NHL, I’m just thinking about each day getting better. If I do that, I have a feeling I will be up there.”
The Islanders, who were off on Wednesday, open their regular season on Friday night against the Capitals at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. Bridgeport’s season opener is Saturday night at Springfield.
Wahlstrom, 19, the 11th overall pick in 2018, had a lackluster freshman season at Boston College — he readily admits the college life didn’t suit him — before joining the Sound Tigers late last season. The 6-2, 211-pound, right-shooting Wahlstrom had two goals and one assist in five regular-season games for Bridgeport, then added two goals and two assists in five postseason games.
His first training camp with the Islanders was a strong one, too, with the organization intrigued by his big body and ability to get off a quick shot. Wahlstrom had one assist in three preseason games for the Islanders.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Islanders eventually needed an injection of Wahlstrom’s scoring potential into their lineup.
“I think the last game he played against the Rangers is indicative of what he can do,” said Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello.
That was a 3-1 loss at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 24 where Wahlstrom, skating on Derick Brassard’s line with Anthony Beauvillier, took five shots in an impressive 16:55, including 3:19 on an 0-for-4 power play.
“He can score, he’s got a great attitude,” Lamoriello added. “He’s close.”
Wahlstrom said he was comfortable of the speed of play in the NHL, albeit preseason play.
“I kind of got into rhythm, I just got the timing and pace of the NHL level,” Wahlstrom said. “That last game at MSG, I felt like I fit in.
“I’ve come here with a good mindset to work hard and be patient,” Wahlstrom added. “I’m still young, I’m still developing. They just want me to come down and work hard and be myself and enjoy the moment wherever I go. I thought I had a good showing. I have a feeling I’ll be up there if I keep working.”
Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said Wahlstrom just needs to make sure his efforts are consistent, particularly in practice. Thompson termed Wahlstrom a “gamer, a kid that really wants to play games.
“It’s consistency day in and day out with his work ethic, his practice habits, not coasting in practice,” Thompson added. “He has to play with pace and use that body. You see when he’s got his physical game going, he creates more space for himself and he gets more time and space to get his shot off.”
Notes & Quotes: Right wing Simon Holmstrom, the 23rd overall pick in June, was assigned to Bridgeport.