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At 10: Oliver Wahlstrom

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

ABOUT WAHLSTROM

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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RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I absolutely agree… I confess I haven’t researched many other picks outside the top 5 or 6… I am willing him #10… nnnnnnnmmmmmmnnnnoooooooonnnmmmmmmmmmmnnnnnnnnnamasté

  • JimmyV1965

    I think we have a decent shot at getting Wahlstrom if it wasn’t for those damn Rangers. There’s no way he slides past them. Winger is their weakest spot in the prospect pool. Wonder what it would take to switch places with the Hawks? I doubt the Hawks want him because wing is their strength.

  • crabman

    I would love to see the Oilers draft Wahlstrom but would be very surprised to see him fall to 10. I haven’t read anything to indicate he has any skill that is bellow average and is at the top of the draft for shot.
    For him to fall I believe at least 2 teams will need to draft for positional need at center but can’t see this happening.
    I have a lot of respect for Pronman’s scouting and he has Wahlstrom as the 6th best prospect, and the best goal scorer and best shot it the draft. He watched a lot of the USHL and says he saw him routinely beat goalies from 20+ feet out cleanly without a screen, and could step into the NHL and score 20 goals with his wrist shot alone. A player like that should be taken long before we get to pick but if he falls, that would be a great day one of the draft. His right shot setting up for a onetimer on the PP is exactly what the team needs.

    • I think Wahlstrom could go as high sixth but that’s based on what other seasoned scouts and observers say. I don’t put much weight in Pronman’s assessments. When I see him with Dobson at 20th and Bouchard at 18th as of May 21 — and that’s higher than he had them previously — I wonder what he’s looking for. I haven’t seen his updated rankings for June 7, but if he leaves then anywhere near that low then I think he’s way off and if he moves them up substantially to be more in line with others then I’ll wonder why he had them so low in the first place.

      • crabman

        @Brownlee,

        I don’t argue Pronman can be far off the norm with some prospects. His rating are based on top end skill/potential future star ability and does take age into consideration. For instance he will compare Bouchard’s season last year more closely to a player like Merkley or Boqvist because he is almost a full year older and thinks it’s better to compare players at the same age. He considers Bouchard’s skating average at best, and ranks Dobson’s puck skill average at best. He has good things to say about each player and seems to consider them both good bets to be top4 but not potential homerun, #1D potential. He ranks many players higher based on his perceived ceilings of said players.
        I do wonder what his mock draft would look like as I believe the order would be much different than how he ranks the players.
        I don’t take his final.ranking as the end all of course. He is just one of many people that make a living watching teenagers play hockey. I do respect the way he looks at the game and evaluates talent even if he has a more high risk high reward system than most. But even if you don’t trust his overall opinion I doubt you disagree with his assessment of Wahlstrom having the best/one of the best shots in the draft. Every scout is saying that. Many are saying he has 50 goal potential. Pronman just also says Wahlstrom might have the best shot he has ever seen from a 17 year old out of the USNDP, which says a lot.
        Even your own examples of how Wahlstrom is being ranked have him gone a number of spots before the Oilers pick at 10. All except Button. Could Wahlstrom fall? Sure odder things have happened, and I would be thrilled if he did. But odds are he is long gone before 10. He is just too good.

      • crabman

        @Brownlee,

        Also if you really are interested in what he sees, or doesn’t see, in Bouchard there is an article over at the athletic which is just a transcript of an interview with Pronman and Wheeler discussing how/why they rank a few different prospects so differently. They don’t talk about Dobson but there is a part about Bouchard. It’s an interesting read. Agree or not at least afterwards you know why he thinks the way he does about the player.

        • The bottom line is the ranking order. I’m not going to tell Pronman or anybody else how they should assess players. I did it for years on the WHL beat and in the months leading up to the Entry Draft while covering the Oilers but that doesn’t mean my way was the right way. That said, it’s my opinion the bottom line will be he is way off on Dobson and Bouchard where he has them now. We’ll see soon enough.

          • crabman

            @Brownlee,

            I agree that where he has them ranked won’t be where they are taken. They will both be top 10 picks. And they both should be good bets to be productive pros. I don’t think either one of them have 1 exceptional trait, and I don’t see either of them turning into dominant top pair D that put up big points and contend for Norris trophies and there is nothing wrong with that. Those types of players are extreamly rare.

            Thanks for sharing your opinion and this back and forth. It is greatly appreciated.

  • Rama Lama

    WOW……..the skill is high, that much is obvious. We have seen high skilled players with over the top one on one skills be marginalized at the NHL level. I hope that he is available when we pick.

    We also know that the most coveted players in the NHL are defenceman, so as much as I like this players skill………if I were a GM I would select defenceman first, as they command more in trades, and then try to acquire this player at a later date.

  • OriginalPouzar

    There is an argument for Whalstrom to be the second forward off the board (after Svechnikov) – although I do see Zadina going before him.

    Absolutely I would draft him ahead of Tkachuk and likely ahead of Bouchard and Boquist (and definitely the other forwards on a heater – Kotkaniemi, etc.).

    I don’t see him lasting past the 5-9 range and, given the great potential that will still be available at 10, I don’t see trading up as a great option (we need to continue to acquire depth at both the NHL and prospect level, not give up depth).

    Would love Whalstrom – his shot metrics rival those of Matthews, Eichel, Conner, etc. – don’t see it happening though.

  • OriginalPouzar

    As an aside, I am so excited for two weeks today – I have no idea who they are going to pick at 10, it could one of a number of different players.

    I’m also excited for Saturday, given the huge tier around 15-45, there is going to be first round talent/potential available for our 2nd round pick – its going to be a solid asset.

    So happy the flames don’t have a pick until the 4th round in this draft.