Islanders Hit Draft Jackpot With Wahlstrom and Dobson

By Leo Scaglione Jr.
Special Contributor to

In the end, Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello kept both of his first-round picks in the 2018 NHL draft.

When the Islanders were on the clock at number 11, they selected Oliver Wahlstrom, a right wing from Quincy, Mass., who spent each of the past two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program.

Measuring in at 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, Wahlstrom labels himself “a big, strong power forward with lots of skill and creativity” who “can bring a lot of offensive flair.”

“My biggest asset is my shot,” he added. “I can get it off from anywhere. Scoring goals [are] my specialty. I’ve loved doing that since I was a little kid. I’m very excited.”

The stats prove it. Wahlstrom led the U.S. National Under-18 Team across the offensive board this past season with 48 goals and 46 assists for 94 points in 62 games played.

Jeff Cox, the prospects guru for the New England Hockey Journal, has this scouting report on Wahlstrom: “His biggest strength is his shot. He can get it off from anywhere. With his strong angles and feet, he can get a one-timer off no matter if the pass is good or bad, and it’s fast. He can also get his snap shot off. His shot is absolutely amazing.”

The Hockey News, which rated him as the eighth best draft-eligible prospect, says the best case scenario is that Wahlstrom ends up playing a similar game in the NHL to Penguins forward Phil Kessel. Wahlstrom, however, tries to emulate Jets forward Patrik Laine.

[Fischler: Nine Challenges Facing Barry Trotz]

Originally committed to Harvard University, Wahlstrom has since changed his college commitment to Boston College. That’s if he’s not skating in the Islanders’ organization, that is.

“I have confidence in my ability,” Wahlstrom said. “I can step right in. I’ll make a decision at the end of the summer. If I have to go back and develop for one year, Boston College is a great spot for me to develop.”

Still, Wahlstrom has areas of his game he wants to improve, starting with his play without the puck.

“I have to hone in on that and be more consistent in that area,” he said.

Wahlstrom was star struck when he reached the stage, especially when he met Lamoriello.

“You see all these guys on television when you’re a kid,” the right-shooting forward said. “You see the general managers talking on the phone on NHL Network. I looked in (Lou’s) eyes and thought, ‘Is this happening right now?’ It was really cool. I am very fortunate to be in this position.”

Also fortunate was Noah Dobson, selected by the Islanders right after Wahlstrom.

Dobson, a right-handed shooting defenseman who spent the past two seasons with Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL), totaled 69 points (17 goals, 52 assists) in 67 games this past campaign and helped lead his club to its first Memorial Cup.

Being drafted just adds icing to his euphoric cake.

“It’s been a pretty crazy month with the Memorial Cup, the Scouting Combine and now to be at the draft with my family,” he said. “I’m very happy to have them here and be able to enjoy the experience with them.”

One scout who spoke with The Hockey News said of Dobson: “He keeps climbing every time I see him. He’s not close to his ceiling yet.”

He already has a high-ceiling physically – he’s 6-foot-3, 177 pounds.

“I bring a two-way, puck-moving game,” Dobson said. “I’m very reliable defensively and I’m able to play against the other teams top players and at the same time get up in the rush and create offense.”

Dobson still wants to reach that aforementioned ceiling and intends to add some muscle this summer.

“I want to get my body to the next level and add some strength,” he said. “When I go to the NHL camp with the Islanders in September I want to be able to compete against men and not be out of place.”

Both Wahlstrom and Dobson are excited to share the special bond of being selected back to back by the same organization,

“It makes the transition of joining a new organization a little easier to have a guy like him picked one pick ahead of you,” Dobson said. “We can go through the process together. I’m happy to join the organization with him.”

Concluded Wahlstrom: “That was cool. Noah’s a kid I’m going to be with for the rest of my life. He’s a great player. I saw some highlights of him and the Islanders are going to get a great defenseman.”

The Islanders hope they are getting more than just a great defenseman. If all goes as planned, they’ll be getting a great forward, too!

[Watch: Lamoriello Explains Trotz Hiring]