Barry Trotz had no update on Oliver Wahlstrom’s status for Wednesday night’s Game 6 against the Penguins at Nassau Coliseum. But the Islanders coach said Travis Zajac would likely join the lineup for the potential clincher if the rookie right wing is unable to play.
"He’s being looked at right now," Trotz said of Wahlstrom on Tuesday after the team returned to New York following Monday night’s 3-2 double-overtime win in Game 5 at PPG Paints Arena.
Wahlstrom, who has a goal and two assists in his first five NHL playoff games, was shouldered hard into the wall by Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson at 11:57 of the third period and needed help to support his weight as he was led off the ice and to the Islanders’ dressing room. Wahlstrom’s head also seemingly slammed against the boards.
Trotz listed Wahlstrom, the 11th overall pick in 2018 who had 12 goals and nine assists in 44 games this season, as day-to-day after Game 5. The Islanders did not practice on Tuesday.
If Wahlstrom is unable to play — which seems the likely scenario — Trotz can choose between Zajac, Michael Dal Colle, Ross Johnston and fellow rookie Kieffer Bellows, none of whom have dressed in this series.
Zajac was acquired along with Kyle Palmieri from the Devils on April 7 for a package that included a first-round pick. But after playing 1,024 games for the Devils since 2006, Zajac struggled to find a spot with the Islanders, notching one goal and one assist in 13 games as Trotz used him anywhere from the first to the fourth line and at all three forward positions.
Trotz said Monday Zajac is most comfortable as a center. But his familiarity with Palmieri would help him slide into Wahlstrom’s spot on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s third line.
"He’s had many of these moments and he plays a couple of positions," Trotz said. "So, I would say he’s in the forefront right now."
Defenseman Ryan Pulock likely would take Wahlstrom’s spot on the 3-for-14 power play.