The New York Islanders signed Oliver Wahlstrom, who was a restricted free agent (RFA), to a qualifying supply. The deal is a one-year, $874,125 contract that retains the 23-year-old on the roster for subsequent season and all however wraps up common supervisor (GM) Lou Lamoriello’s summer season. He entered this offseason hoping to re-sign the gamers on final season’s group and he has accomplished that with the Wahlstrom contract.
For Wahlstrom, this deal is “a guess on himself” contract as he’ll have loads of strain to step up this season and turn into a pivotal a part of the offense. On the identical time, it speaks volumes for the Islanders and what may occur forward of the 2023-24 season.
Wahstrom is Betting On Himself
Walhstrom’s upside is unquestioned however the issue is he’s solely given the Islanders a small pattern dimension and glimpses of what he can present. Since he made his debut in 2019, he’s solely performed in 161 video games. Final season, he scored seven targets and 9 assists in 35 video games however had his marketing campaign lower brief with a lower-body damage. He’ll return in 2023-24, nevertheless it’s unclear what his manufacturing will appear to be, particularly from a skating standpoint, as he continues to recuperate.
He’s been within the NHL for a number of seasons and has but to hit on his potential. Nevertheless, within the few video games Wahlstrom’s performed, he’s proved that he has pace and an ideal shot that may make him an elite participant within the NHL. In a full season, he can turn into a 20-goal scorer and notably add a taking pictures presence to the wing of the Islanders’ offense.
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The current contract he acquired, whereas underwhelming, permits Wahlstrom to place collectively a profession yr. If he turns into a dependable a part of the offense and even a top-six ahead by the tip of the season, he’ll obtain an enormous payday subsequent offseason. Extra importantly, it should sign to Lamoriello and the group that he’s an integral a part of the roster and may play an enormous function in permitting the Islanders to compete for the Cup.
Lamoriello Kicks the Can One Extra Yr
There’s no query that Lamoriello wished to maintain Wahlstrom on the roster for 2023-24. Whereas he would have been an intriguing commerce chip for Alex DeBrincat, who was dealt to the Detroit Purple Wings, the objective was to have Wahlstrom again for at the least yet one more yr. The query is what his function on the roster in the long run will appear to be.
A one-year deal provides Lamoriello and head coach Lane Lambert time to determine all the things out. A giant yr from Wahlstrom will seal his place within the ahead unit and this deal offers Lambert a full season to seek out out the place he most closely fits within the ahead unit. Likewise, yet one more yr permits the Islanders to see what Wahlstrom’s ceiling is and if he can turn into an elite skater on the wing.
Wahlstrom’s Place within the Offense
Will probably be robust to discover a line that most accurately fits Wahlstrom, making the upcoming season an advanced one for the younger ahead. Ideally, he would play on the identical line as Mathew Barzal or Brock Nelson, two playmakers that may present him with open pictures within the offensive zone. The issue is that the highest two strains are set, particularly after Pierre Engvall signed a seven-year contract. This leaves Wahlstrom to play alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau on the third line. Pageau is a longtime puck-handling heart however not a dynamic participant that may open up the offense and permit the skaters on his wing to thrive. Heading into subsequent season, the Islanders’ ahead strains appear to be this:
|Anders Lee||Bo Horvat||Mathew Barzal|
|Pierre Engvall||Brock Nelson||Kyle Palmieri|
|Hudson Fasching||Jean-Gabriel Pageau||Oliver Wahlstrom|
|Matt Martin||Casey Cizikas||Cal Clutterbuck|
These ahead strains don’t embrace Zach Parise, who has but to signal a deal however may return for yet one more season. The Islanders would like to have him again after he scored 21 targets final season however turning 39 this offseason, it’s extra probably that he retires. If Parise returns and the Islanders can match him beneath the wage cap, Wahlstrom’s function will change and he may need bother discovering a line he can type sturdy chemistry with for your complete season.
Wahlstrom’s saving grace or the realm he could make a reputation for himself is on the facility play. The unit was terrible for the Islanders final season, scoring on solely 15.77 % of its alternatives and he can turn into the objective scorer that the facility play desperately wants. Wahlstrom can discover open pictures on the faceoff circles and turn into a constant objective scorer on the person benefit along with his fast and correct shot. His presence can flip the Islanders’ energy mess around and because of this, permit the offense as a complete to take an enormous leap in 2023-24.
What’s Subsequent for the Islanders?
The Wahlstrom deal all however places a bow on the offseason for the Islanders. After Lamoriello re-signed his unrestricted free brokers (UFAs) and prolonged Ilya Sorokin, the one factor left was to discover a solution to preserve the younger ahead on the roster for subsequent season. With the deal being made, it’s unlikely any massive strikes will occur in the remainder of the offseason.
That stated, it’s price conserving a watch out for a “hockey commerce” which Lamoriello alluded to in his current media availability. It’s unlikely that the veteran GM makes a transfer but when the precise supply is on the desk, count on him to take benefit.
The Islanders head into 2023-24 with an identical roster that allowed them to succeed in the playoffs final season. Now, it’s as much as that very same roster to show that they’ll take the subsequent step and make a Cup run. With the Jap Convention shaping as much as be harder this season, the query is that if Lamoriello will make a transfer at any level to improve his group to match up with the competitors.