To understate, there are jobs on right wing available with the Edmonton Oilers — one of them being playing alongside Connor McDavid. Maybe youngsters Jesse Puljujarvi or Kailer Yamamoto will grab that prime gig and run with it. If not them, maybe it will be U.S. born Oliver Wahlstrom, who might be the best pure goal-scorer in the 2018 Entry Draft and might be available when the Oilers hit the podium with the 10th overall pick.
Wahlstrom, a six-foot-one, 205-pound right winger (he has also played some centre), scored 22 goals in 26 games with the U.S. Under-18 team this season. He’s exactly the kind of finisher the Oilers don’t have right now and the kind of player with a proven knack for putting the puck in the back of the net that every team covets. McDavid with Wahlstrom. Any Oilers’ fans out there wondering how that might look? I hear you.
What are the chances Wahlstrom is still on the board when the Oilers pick? The people at MyNHLDraft.com have him going sixth overall to the Detroit Red Wings. It’s not like Vancouver, Chicago and the New York Rangers, who have the three selections ahead of Edmonton, couldn’t use Wahlstrom. Then again, will forwards like Barrett Hayton or Jesperi Kotkaniemi be in the mix in the first nine picks and make Wahlstrom available for the Oilers?
Here’s the ranking range on Wahlstrom.
International Scouting Services (ISS): 5th
Craig Button of TSN: 10th
Central Scouting: 7th among NA skaters
McKeen’s Hockey: 7th
Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet: 6th
Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News: 8th
One thing everybody can agree on with Wahlstrom is that’s he’s got sick offensive skills. Check out this video of a nine-year-old Wahlstrom wowing ‘em in a shootout. There’s some more recent examples of Wahlstrom’s offensive prowess here. With the numbers he put up with the U.S. National Team Development Program this season, Wahlstrom, in the opinion of many, projects as exactly the kind of finisher who would shine alongside the gifted McDavid.
Here’s what people are saying about Wahlstrom
- “Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He’s most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players.” – Mike Morreale, NHL.com
- “An elite scoring winger who can beat you with his quick release, velocity and accuracy.” – Button (who dropped Wahlstrom from 9th to 10th Tuesday in his latest ranking).
- “Wahlstrom is one of the top goal-scoring prospects in this draft. He plays an in-your-face style and crashes the net with little regard for his own safety. He also kills penalties and can provide any coach with the necessary intangibles they covet.” – Steve Kournianos, Sporting News
SETTING THE BAR HIGH
Wahlstrom interviewed with more than 20 teams, including the Oilers, at the NHL combine in Buffalo last weekend. When asked about his influences and who he might pattern his game after by Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now, Wahlstrom set the bar high. “My childhood hero was Alex Ovechkin,” he said. “I player I like to model (myself after) is Patrick Laine because of our similar shots and release points. I look at those two guys.”
I don’t know how close Wahlstrom is to being NHL ready or when he’d arrive – he’d reportedly committed to playing with Harvard next season but word now is he’ll go to Boston College – even if the Oilers did manage to get him with the 10th pick. It might be a bit much to expect him to compete with Yamamoto and Puljujarvi for a spot on RW alongside McDavid in 2018-19, but I bet a lot of fans would like to see him give it a shot.
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