The Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League added Boston College freshman Oliver Wahlstrom to their roster on Thursday, sparking speculation that Wahlstrom might leave BC for the USHL.
However, no move is imminent.
Wahlstrom, a first-round pick of the New York Islanders, is struggling in his freshman season at BC. He has appeared in nine games for the Eagles but has just a pair of goals despite leading the Eagles with 35 shots on goal.
According to a Tri-City team source, the Storm coaching staff was brought information late Wednesday that Wahlstrom might be considering a move. The source said that the info did not come from Wahlstrom or any of his advisors, but pressed for time (the team had a game Wednesday night), the Storm decided to add his rights as a speculative move before another USHL team beat them to it. By doing so, the Storm guaranteed that if Wahlstrom decides to make a move in the future, they would own his USHL rights.
The source added on Thursday that the team has not spoken to Wahlstrom and will not be actively recruiting him while he is a member of the Boston College program.
If Wahlstrom decided to leave BC, the USHL would be a viable option even if he doesn’t plan on transferring to another NCAA program. By avoiding the Canadian Hockey League, Wahlstrom could be assigned to the AHL as soon as next season (if he signed with the Islanders) rather than be forced into an assignment in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
It’s also not unprecedented that someone in Wahlstrom’s position — a highly-regarded player but struggling with playing time or production — might look for a change at this time of year. It’s now the norm for USHL GMs to take notice, looking over rosters to see who might not be getting playing time while also scouring for information in an effort to find out who might be looking for a change of scenery.
Just last season, defenseman Ben Finkelstein left St. Lawrence in early January and went to Waterloo. There, he went on to win Defenseman of the Year in the USHL and completely changed the Blackhawks season, including leading the team to an Anderson Cup (regular-season champion). Ironically, Finkelstein is in the process of transferring to BC, committing to the Eagles after he left the Saints for Waterloo last February.
However, in this case, the Tri-City source confirmed that adding Wahlstrom was purely a speculative move by the organization.
Earlier this week, BC sophomore forward Jacob Tortora left the Eagles after appearing in just four games this season and signed with the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Eagles (3-5-1) are hosting Bentley on Friday and are in the midst of a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1).