Oliver Wahlstrom went to Sweden with hockey on pause in North America so he could skate, gain strength and drop “a lot” of weight. Kieffer Bellows went back home to Minnesota, finding ice time scarce but trying to stay ready.
The two former first-rounders are battling for playing time at Islanders’ Training Camp 2.0 and both had goals as their Blue squad won Wednesday’s scrimmage, 2-0, at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.
“It’s been a lot of good learning,” Wahlstrom said. “Hopefully I can make an impact and help the team.”
Wahlstrom went without a point in nine NHL games and was returned to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport to work on his defensive game. Bellows had two goals and one assist in eight games with the Islanders, then notched 21 goals over his last 33 games with the Sound Tigers.
At Wednesday’s scrimmage they formed a line with veteran Andrew Ladd and it marked the rookies’ best showing in training camp.
“Early in camp, there were some struggles,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “You can see the concepts are starting to sink in. The first couple of scrimmages they spent a tremendous amount of time in their own end and a lot of that was self-inflicted.”
Leo Komarov, wearing a full facial shield to protect an apparent facial injury, skated for the first time on Wednesday as the Islanders had full, on-ice attendance for the first time since training camp opened on July 13. Komarov did not participate in the scrimmage but practiced with a secondary group.
“Leo’s lost a little bit of ground but he’s up to date, he’s been in on every meeting,” said Trotz, adding there was no timeline for Komarov to join the main group. “When he’s ready to get it ramped in and be with the group, we’ll allow him back in.”