Patrick Roy, Islanders to give Oliver Wahlstrom ‘a good look’ moving forward

Oliver Wahlstrom Islanders
New York Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom, left, tries to poke the puck away from New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — The Islanders made the decision to waive Julien Gauthier and subsequently send him to the minors not just for cap reasons, but to give Oliver Wahlstrom “a good look,” as team president and general manager Lou Lamoriello described on Sunday. 

The 23-year-old right-winger has appeared in just 23 of the Islanders’ first 49 games, drawing back into the lineup after a four-game hiatus on Jan. 27 against the Florida Panthers — New York’s final game before the All-Star break.

With new head coach Patrick Roy having received time to settle in following his hasty arrival two weeks ago thanks to that break, he’s setting his sights on Wahlstrom.

“I have time for him,” Roy said on Sunday. “I’m curious to see what is his ceiling and where he is. We’re going to do a lot of one-on-one.”

The intangibles for Wahlstrom are there. He has an above-average shot and hands to be a skilled player with the size to present physicality in his game. After suffering a season-ending ACL injury last season in December, he made it his goal to develop into more of a power forward. 

Oliver Wahlstrom wants to evolve into ‘power forward’ for Islanders in ’23-24

Roy, however, needs to tweak his game to unlock the kind of potential the organization saw when they drafted him 11th overall in 2018.

“He’s a very good hockey player, but he needs to be involved more physically and when I mean by physically, I don’t need him to kill guys over the boards,” Roy said. “More involved physically is when you receive a body check, I want him to move his feet and get out of that one-on-one situation. I want him to beat the guy to the net. I want him to drive to that net more on the rush. 

“I want to make some small changes but I do believe in him because talking to [Lamoriello] and other people, before his injury, he was playing very well for this team. I’d love to give him a chance to be back to where he was and I think he deserves that.”

Oliver Wahlstrom Islanders
New York Islanders’ Oliver Wahlstrom (26) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Wahlstrom will continue inhabiting the right wing of the Islanders’ third line alongside center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and left-winger Simon Holmstrom where getting him on track could provide the influx of scoring depth that could help strengthen the team’s playoff push.

He has just two goals and four assists this season, including an assist in his first game under Roy on Jan. 27 to break a personal nine-game scoring drought.

“He has to just not worry about scoring or anything,” Lamoriello said. “Just go and play. He puts a lot of pressure on himself and he has to just go play. Just have fun — and when I say that, you have to enjoy what you do. We don’t worry about the scoring, we just care about the goal differential. That’s what I believe… Just go play.”

For more on Oliver Wahlstrom and the Islanders, visit AMNY.com