Lou Lamoriello, Islanders aren’t giving up on oft-scratched Oliver Wahlstrom just yet

RALEIGH, N.C. — Lou Lamoriello still thinks Oliver Wahlstrom can achieve his potential on Long Island.

The 23-year-old’s name figures to start coming up in trade rumors after the holiday break, as he has become a frequent healthy scratch for the Islanders while playing under a one-year deal.

Nonetheless, the general manager did not sound inclined to give up on him as of yet when he spoke on Friday.

“You have to remind yourself that this is a professional hockey league,” Lamoriello said. “And you have other players on the team, too, that when you have a 23-man roster, not everybody can play on a given night. And it’s up to those players to perform, to be able to get themselves in the lineup, and it’s unfortunate sometimes when they’re not in for that player, but it’s fortunate for the player who is playing well.

The Capitals’ Evgeny Kuznetsov reaches in as Oliver Wahlstrom handles the puck on Dec. 20, 2023. Getty Images

“I don’t understand the zeroing in on somebody not playing or how difficult it is because this is professional hockey. It’s the same in every sport, no matter what it is. And it’s unfortunate sometimes when you get injured if somebody does well, it’s very difficult for the coach to take them out. In my mind, Oliver’s handled it very well. He’s matured tremendously over the past couple years. And yes, he’s worked his tail off to get back. It’s really up to him to do the things he’s capable of doing.”

Wahlstrom, who was back in the press box for Saturday’s 5-4 win after a one-game cameo while Julien Gauthier was out with a scratched eye, has struggled to make an impact this season upon return from a serious knee injury.

Against the Capitals, he skated 11:39 and extended a points-less streak to five games.

If Zach Parise returns to the Islanders this season — Lamoriello said the lines of communication are open with Parise, who is skating hard on his own in Minneapolis — it would prompt a roster move out of salary cap necessity once Adam Pelech returns from long-term injured reserve.

That could end up being Wahlstrom, if he does not begin to assert himself more firmly in the lineup.

Anders Lee is pumped up after scoring in the third period on Saturday night against the Hurricanes. It was Lee's 250th career goal.
Anders Lee is pumped up after scoring in the third period on Saturday night against the Hurricanes. It was Lee’s 250th career goal. AP

Anders Lee scored his 250th career goal on Saturday, becoming the ninth person to score that many goals in an Islanders uniform.

“It’s just nice to put one in for the boys tonight and get a win right before the break, continue this thing that we’ve been going on,” Lee said.

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