For New York Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom, the 2021-22 season was a tough one. Head coach Barry Trotz was rather hard on the 21-year-old. And at times, it seemed, that the pressure to be perfect on the ice was getting to him.
But after a strong offseason, Oliver Wahlstrom is focused on going out there and letting his work speak for itself.
Oh and having fun too.
“I learned a lot. I got into cooking… I’m a pretty simple cooker right now but working on the diet and just, you know, taking things easy,” Wahlstrom said. “I think I was a little bit hard on myself last year and I have no expectations for myself this year.”
“I mean, I just want to go and have fun. The only expectation is to win hockey games and a Stanley Cup. So I’m super excited, refreshed and everyone’s ready to go.”
Wahlstrom must have expectations for himself, right?
He clarified by saying, “Got some in my head, but I’m just gonna go and have fun.”
Wahlstrom, a native of New England, stayed on Long Island this summer with a few of his NHL teammates.
“I stayed here in the summertime. I stayed with Martin and Bailey and all those guys. So it was awesome,” Wahlstrom said. “But being back and seeing all the boys, there’s nothing like it. I mean, everyone battling each other, sweating and tired. It’s a blast.”
Besides working on his skills with a pot and pan, Wahlstrom believed he grew as a person as well.
“I think I matured a lot these last four or five months,” Wahlstrom shared. “Like I said, I had some expectations for myself last year, and right now, I’m not putting any on me.”
“I think I’m still leaning on the older guys and we have a returning group coming back. So it’s a lot to learn, and it’s a fresh start. And I’m super excited.”
New York Islanders captain Anders Lee said he was proud of the work that Oliver Wahlstrom had put in this summer.
“I know that Wahlstrom put in a ton of work this summer,” Anders Lee said. “He did absolutely everything he could in his power to come into camp fine, and I think you’re going to see that here when we get going with games and his hard work is going to pay off.”
“And I’m really proud of him for what he did, and he should be [proud] of himself and come in and do what he’s doing but come in flying…Now it’s time to show it.”
Veteran defenseman Scott Mayfield spoke on Wahlstrom’s off-season work.
“I was with him all summer back here. He did a ton, you know. I think everything about it, whether it’s on-ice, off-ice stuff, he put in work, and that’s what it takes,” Mayfield said. “When I look back when I was starting to come up and my first couple years pro, it’s tough.”
“Like, you go through your first time playing 82 games, and it’s a grind with the travel, stuff like that. You go into summer thinking, ‘Oh I want some time off,’ but it’s not. it’s time to just get better, and, at that age, too, you’re getting stronger. That’s a big thing for me, is my biggest focus when I was that age was getting stronger, and I think he did that.”
“Just being with him every morning in the gym and then the little stuff he’s doing on the ice, whether it’s with the skills coaches, the skating coaches that we have, stuff like that, so he’s put in the effort, and I’m excited to see him.”
Wahlstrom’s new head coach Lane Lambert is looking for his young forward to take that next step in his development.
“Well, he’s, he’s had a great summer. And you know, there’s a lot of positive things about what he’s doing,” Lambert said. “You know, we’re looking for him to take the next step as well. So what is that?”
“It’s continue to progress. He’s a goal scorer. He can shoot the puck, but what he’s done in the summer, away from the rink, and now in the first couple of days of training camp, he’s matured, and he looks like a guy who’s really, really ready to fight for a job.”