Oliver Wahlstrom’s education was split between the rink and the classroom at this time last year. There’s no dividing his attention now as the 11th overall pick in 2018 heads toward his first training camp with the Islanders.
“Education is important but college is not for everyone, I guess,” Wahlstrom said on Sunday as the Islanders opened their four-day rookie camp in East Meadow, which culminates with a prospects’ game against the Flyers on Wednesday night in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
“Now, I come to the rink every day and it’s hockey. It’s a job. You have to come and show up every day. I like that intensity. I like that feeling.”
The 6-1, 203-pound, right-shooting wing signed a three-year, $4.4 million entry-level deal on March 28 after a disappointing eight goals and 11 assists in 36 games as a Boston College freshman.
His production was better in his end-of-season AHL stint with Bridgeport. He had two goals and one assist in five regular-season games and then two goals and two assists in five playoff games.
“Bridgeport was awesome,” Wahlstrom said. “I found my game there. Pro-style hockey is really fun for me. I wasn’t going to be looking at the numbers. When you go through some slumps like that, you’ve just got to find other ways to get going.”
“I didn’t see the college season but what I saw was a guy that came in with passion,” said Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson, who is running the on-ice sessions at rookie camp. “You could tell he just loved the game and just wanted to be a hockey player.
Wahlstrom still may be a long shot to crack the Islanders’ opening night lineup, even with left wing Andrew Ladd (knee) not expected to be ready. Michael Dal Colle, Tom Kuhnhackl, Ross Johnston and Tanner Fritz, all with NHL experience, are among those competing for playing time up front.
Assuming Cal Clutterbuck (back) is ready for the Oct. 4 opener against the Capitals at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, 11 of the 12 forward spots seem taken.
“I really don’t worry about that at all,” Wahlstrom said. “I’m confident if I play my game and I play hard, there’s a good chance. I just go a day at a time. Work hard and learning is key for me right now, my first camp.”
Notes & quotes: Forward Simon Holmstrom, selected 23rd overall in June, was unable to practice. The Islanders reported Holmstrom blocked a shot while practicing back home in Sweden and is day to day ... Defenseman Bode Wilde (sprained right ankle) and forward Robert Carpenter, still recovering from shoulder surgery that kept him out of the summer development camp, also did not practice.
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