Several Islanders returning to Long Island means hockey season is almost here

Hockey season is in the air. The weather has gotten colder, there’s been snow in the forecast, and more than that: players are beginning to return to their respective clubs.

Including the Islanders.

With the January 13th target date for when the proposed 56-game season will begin, several Isles are making their way back to Long Island in preparation for training camp, which is set to begin less than three weeks from now.

Oliver Wahlstrom, the organization’s first round pick in 2018, posted on Instagram yesterday that he was leaving his Swedish club, AIK, to return to the United States for camp.

AIK confirmed the news as well.

The Islanders had loaned Wahlstrom to the HockeyAllsvenskan club in early September so he could stay in shape and to allow him to play after the coronavirus pandemic shutdown his and Bridgeport’s season in early March. The 20-year-old had been with the Isles in the Toronto and Edmonton postseason bubbles, but never saw any game action.

Wahlstrom went 4-4-8 in 10 games with AIK while also missing four weeks due to injury after going hard into the boards in a game back on October 23rd.

Wahlstrom is fully healthy heading into camp and should be fighting for a roster spot, most likely as one of the Isles’ middle-six forwards.

Three players, whose spots are already solidified, are also on the mend back to the Island.

Casey Cizikas, Scott Mayfield and Jordan Eberle all indicated over the weekend that they and their families were making travel arrangements to be back in New York sometime this week. They will join captain Anders Lee ans J.G. Pageau who have already made their returns back in the past few weeks. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported yesterday that a lot of the league’s players were taking the same route with camp looking like it will begin right after New Years.

All three had spent the offseason away from Long Island after the Islanders’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Cizikas in Ontario; Mayfield in Colorado; Eberle in Alberta.

There should be other Islanders who make their way to Long Island in the coming weeks with talks between the NHL/NHLPA continuing to move quickly.

In the meantime, the World Juniors will commence at the end of next week. There is a little Isles flavor to it for those who are still looking for their hockey fix before the real thing begins. 2019 first-rounder Simon Holmstrom will be playing for Team Sweden while 2020 sixth-round pick Matias Rajaniemi will represent his native Finland.

The wait since mid-September has felt like forever, but now with players coming back, we’re one step closer to hockey finally being back for real.