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Oliver Wahlstrom needs to take step forward with Islanders next season

June 6, 2022, 7:58 PM ET [45 Comments]
Ben Shelley
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It’s been four years since Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson were selected by the New York Islanders with back-to-back picks in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft.

While Dobson has emerged as a key offensive defenseman for the Islanders though, Wahlstrom hasn't necessarily taken as large of a step within the forward group.

Wahlstrom was coming off scoring 12 goals and 21 points in 44 games with the Islanders in his rookie year, a solid pace of 22 goals and 39 points per 82 games. His production saw a decline this season though, particularly his goal pace, with just 13 goals and 24 points in 73 games, a pace of 15 goals and 27 points per 82 games. During the season, he also went through three different stretches of at least eight games in a row without a point.

His shooting percentage was down around 8.3 per cent, which is lower than usual for a player with a shot of his caliber. That said, Wahlstrom does need to round out his game a bit and wasn’t consistently able to make an impact. His shot is obviously his biggest asset but it would be a good step to see him able to do a bit more with the puck on his stick and also make more of an impact outside the offensive zone.

Wahlstrom’s usage absolutely needs to be taken into account though. He was averaging a ridiculously low 10:35 per game at even strength, which was less than Kieffer Bellows, Matt Martin and pretty much every other member of the forward group. It’s a situation where Wahlstrom needs to be better to play more but it’s obviously going to be tough to get on a roll and find consistency when you're getting so little ice time.

Next season, Wahlstrom needs to be used correctly within the forward group, but also needs to take a step in his development. The Islanders obviously need external upgrades up front as well but Wahlstrom finding his game is key. The hope should be that by season’s end, Wahstrom is at least on the verge of establishing himself as a legitimate top-six forward, with around 25 goals and 45 points as a fairly realistic goal.

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