DALLAS — It’s been quite few weeks for the New York Islanders organization. After hiring Lou Lamoriello as their new president and general manager and then snatching up Barry Trotz to replace Doug Weight as head coach, they scored big in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft.
Sitting at picks No. 11 and 12, the Islanders were able to select forward Oliver Wahlstrom and defenseman Noah Dobson.
“All we can say is we’re glad where they were when we picked, so we feel very good about it,” said Lamoriello. “You never know when it comes to drafts, everybody has a little different focus, but these were two players we had very high.”
“It’s a dream come true. To be in New York, that city’s awesome and the organization is a powerhouse organization throughout the years. I couldn’t be more happy,” said Wahlstrom, who spent the last two seasons with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
Wahlstrom, who was a viral star as a 9-year-old, scored 48 goals and recorded 94 points this season. There’s no question about his offensive ability (“Scoring goals is my specialty”). It’s his play away from the puck that he feels he needs to improve, along with consistency. Currently committed to Boston College, he says he’ll make a decision at the end of the summer.
“If I have to develop for one year, Boston College is a great spot for me to develop as a person,” he said.
Also offensively-minded is Dobson, who helped the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL win the Memorial Cup in May. Modeling his game after Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, he’s a good puck moving defenseman that is confident on the rush.
His abilities mesh with where the NHL is going.
“The NHL is a fast game now and you’ve got have D that are able to get the pucks up to the forwards and let them do their thing,” said Dobson. “I think it says a lot. Obviously there’s a lot of great defensemen in this draft. The game’s becoming a fast game so you’ve got to be able to move the puck quick and get the puck up ice.”
Dobson said he wants to use the summer to get stronger and increase his chances of making the team out of training camp in September.
As a 15-year-old, Dobson left his home in Prince Edward Island to spend a year with the Red Bull Salzburg academy. There hs impressed against older competition and furthered his development in a professional setting.
“I think that year at Red Bull showed him how hard he had to work to get to where he wanted to be,” said former NHLer Brian Savage, who served as a Red Bull scout.
Both players were tabbed to go a little higher than they did in many mock drafts, but as Wahlstrom noted, it doesn’t matter where you’re selected.
“You always want to be the best and picked as high as possible,” he said. “But it’s the draft and you get picked and then after that you have to focus on what you do to make the team.”