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Wahlstrom aims to make big impact for Islanders

High-scoring New York forward prospect likens game to Laine

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- Oliver Wahlstrom was not supposed to be available when the New York Islanders selected him with the No. 11 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. That's why his name wasn't stitched on the back of his Islanders jersey at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22.

Still, the 18-year-old forward with the NHL-ready shot isn't expecting a job to be handed to him when the Islanders open training camp in September.

"I've got to prove myself. I haven't made anything yet," Wahlstrom said during Islanders development camp, held last week. "I'm just going to have fun, soak it in and work hard."

Wahlstrom (6-foot-1, 208 pounds) was touted as the best pure scorer available in the draft after having 94 points (48 goals, 46 assists) in 62 games last season for the under-18 team in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program. A native of Quincy, Massachusetts, Wahlstrom will play for Boston College if he does not make the Islanders roster.

"I thought he was really good right from the beginning and the power skating," said Brent Thompson, coach of Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, who ran the Islanders development camp. "He's a coachable kid. He was taking what we were saying and trying to apply it.

"Obviously his shot and his skill set, you can see it. His level of skill is off the charts."

Wahlstrom said he sees some similarities in his game with Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine.

Video: Wahlstrom has a stellar start with the Islanders

"I can't really model myself after him; he's a different breed," Wahlstrom said of Ovechkin. "I think me and Patrik Laine are a little similar, how we shoot, things like that. My favorite players are Patrik Laine and Ovechkin.

"I love scoring goals. My shot's my biggest asset. I can make plays too; I'm not just a goal scorer. I love making plays as well. But my play without the puck has to be a little bit better; be more dialed in with that. Consistency without the puck, I think needs a little bit of work. I've been working on it the last two years, and it's coming along."

The Islanders selected Wahlstrom two spots after their biggest rival, the New York Rangers, opted for forward Vitali Kravtsov of Traktor Chelyabinsk of the Kontinental Hockey League at No. 9. Wahlstrom said he's eager to prove the Rangers wrong down the road, perhaps as a linemate of Mathew Barzal, who won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year after leading the Islanders with 85 points (22 goals, 63 points) last season.

"I think the New York Rangers made a mistake there," Wahlstrom said. "But it's fine. I'm just really happy to be with the Islanders. I look at what you do after the draft. I could care less where I go in the draft.

"They've won a lot of Stanley Cups, and they have a lot of young talent. Barzal, all those guys are coming along. It's going to be fun. Hopefully I can be a part of that."

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