Oliver Wahlstrom has signed his three-year entry level contract with the New York Islanders, the team announced Thursday. Word filtered out earlier in the week that he was leaving NCAA Boston College after just one season, so this contract, which begins in 2019-20, was an assumed next step.
Options are technically still on the table for where he spends 2019-20 — we just know it won’t be in the NCAA, since his eligibility is wiped out by signing his NHL entry level contract.
For now, he is expected to join AHL Bridgeport (on an ATO), where he’s most likely to spend next season, and where he’ll get a preview of the organization and pro life while the team can more directly set expectations for him.
Wahlstrom had a tough year at BC, struggling out of the gate before recovering for a better second half on a team that disappointed all across the board. Arthur Staple in the Athletic detailed some of the concerns that peppered him this season, as well as some that trailed from his even younger years committing first to Maine, then to Harvard, and finally to BC.
In the middle of his lone NCAA season, he had a decent performance for silver medalist Team USA at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, including a goal in the 2-1 semifinal win that sent them to the gold medal game. He had a goal in the final called back for a crease violation.
Drafted 11th overall in last summer’s entry draft, Wahlstrom now becomes the first test case for prospect identification and development under the new Islanders management regime. Certainly his selection was informed by existing scouts and league-wide conventional wisdom that had him as a top prospect, but how his game develops from here is now both in his hands and those of Lou Lamoriello, who’s had his share of success with American NCAA players.