Oliver Wahlstrom was selected 11th overall in the 2018 NHL entry draft. The next pick was teammate Noah Dobson. The two selections made by the New York Islanders’ front office in 2018 have proven to be their most promising young talents. Dobson started his NHL career a year before Wahlstrom. It seems that Wahlstrom is following in his teammate’s footsteps as he is gradually phased into the lineup.
Trotz and His System
Barry Trotz is a well-respected, defensive-minded coach that sticks to his philosophy which oftentimes pays dividends. Last season, Dobson was playing minimal minutes under head coach Trotz. The young defensemen appeared in half of the team’s games. He averaged a low time on ice of 13:17. Although Wahlstrom got well-deserved ice time during the regular season, he has been absent from the Islanders’ lineup since the first-round series against the Penguins.
The overlapping theme is Trotz will always trust seasoned players over his youngsters. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any red flags regarding the trust of Wahlstrom besides inexperience. That being said, Dobson played a much more crucial role in his sophomore season. With the departure of Devon Toews and the injury to Johnny Boychuk, Trotz called upon Dobson to eat up ice time. This year, Dobson averaged a time on ice of 16:24 and played in all but ten games due to a stint on the COVID-19 list.
Based on Trotz’s mindset towards rookies, it would not be surprising to see Wahlstrom get more ice time. This is because, through the playoffs, it was evident that the Islanders needed scoring. With Kyle Palmieri’s unrestricted free agent status, the Islanders may lose a player that contributed a great amount in his short tenure with the Isles. Most likely, Wahlstrom would play with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Leo Komarov–assuming Anders Lee will return to the lineup and bump Komarov down in the lineup.
Should Trotz Tinker With His Lines?
It would be surprising to see Wahlstrom receive a line promotion. For instance, the second line has not really been tinkered with since the 2019-2020 playoffs. He is simply not ready for a first-line role unless he has a breakout sophomore season. Many fans expect Wahlstrom to contribute right away but the system instilled by Trotz hinders offensive production. Consequently, it becomes harder for the goal-scoring youngster to find his footing on the Islanders. Similar to Mat Barzal, Wahlstrom will learn two-way hockey to round out his game.
Can Seattle’s Selection Impact The Islanders’ Identity?
The thirty-second NHL team, the Seattle Kraken, has the privilege of selecting a player from each organization aside from the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Many fans expect that a bottom-six player such as Cal Clutterbuck or Komarov will be selected. Wahlstrom is guaranteed protection under his rookie contract so if Seattle selects a forward, Trotz may rework all his lines. That could give the youngster a grand opportunity.