from the Tampa Bay Lightning for goaltender Dwayne Roloson late on New Year’s Day, no one was more surprised than the 6-4, 222-pound blue-liner.
Trades are a common action throughout professional sports, and in many cases fans are surprised when teams swap players. However, when the New York Islanders acquired defenseman and former first-round pick
“I found out after the game last night (Jan. 1) and my first impression was just shock…I was not expecting to get traded,” Wishart told Bridgeport Sound Tigers broadcaster Phil Giubileo during the second intermission of their game on Jan. 2 against Providence. “But it’s a great opportunity for me, and I’m really happy to be here.”
A former first-round pick (16th overall) of the San Jose Sharks back in 2006, Wishart comes to the Islanders organization in the midst of his third professional season. Most of those three years have been spent with the Norfolk Admirals, the American Hockey League Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Wishart played the majority of his junior hockey with the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, but was traded in his final season to the Moose Jaw Warriors where he played alongside current Islander defenseman Travis Hamonic
The Comox, BC native is more than just an enforcer, despite what his stature suggests. Wishart tallied 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists) in 76 games with Norfolk last season and all Admirals defenseman in those offensive categories. His 32-point output came on the heels of a mere six points a year earlier. Wishart attributes that improvement on the ice to a boost in his mental strength.
“Well, a huge part of my game is confidence. My first year coming in, I was timid and wasn’t sure how forceful to be,” Wishart said. “But the past couple years have been great for my development. I’ve been getting stronger, faster and more confident with the puck and taking shots I may have passed up in the past. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do the same thing here.”
Wishart’s strength on the ice is countered by a calm demeanor off the ice and a willingness to offer a helping hand in the local community. His efforts were recognized last season when Wishart was awarded Norfolk’s American Specialty/AHL Many of the Year honors for his outstanding work in the community.
As is often the case when switching organizations, Wishart realizes the mentality on the ice and systems that the Islanders and Sound Tigers use will be different from what he’s played the past two-plus seasons in Norfolk. Wishart feels optimistic about a change in style.
“I think this style fits my game well,” Wishart said. “It’s a big change from Norfolk, but it’s not a style that I haven’t played in the past and I think it will fit my game well.
Wishart has played in 142 games thus far in his American Hockey League career, but two years ago he got the call that every player dreams about. He was recalled by the Lightning and made his NHL debut on Jan. 3, 2009 against Carolina, recording his first NHL point 18 days later against Buffalo. Wishart dressed in five games during the recall, and despite his obvious excitement leading up to his debut with the Sound Tigers, his ultimate goal is to skate in front of the Coliseum faithful.
“That’s what we are all striving for,” Wishart said. “Hopefully, I’ll get a shot here and play in some games and we’ll see what happens. I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous (in my first game in Bridgeport), but once the nerves get out hopefully I’ll put up some offense and lay the body a bit.”