We will continue our look at prospective draft picks for the Montreal Canadiens at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft with Oliver Wahlstrom of the U.S. National U18 Team.
CSB: No. 7 (NA Skaters) | ISS: No. 5 | THN: No. 6 | HP: No. 6 | FC: No. 8
Wahlstrom made headlines long before his draft eligible season as his lacrosse style shootout move for a goal, prior to a Boston Bruins game, as a 9-year-old went viral on YouTube, a goal that is still talked about today. During an interview, he had the following to say about the goal he scored that day.
“I was going to have some fun with it so I just picked it up on my stick, twirled it around, shot, and it went in,” he said. “When I saw it go in I was shocked, to be honest. I can tell you that’s a pretty low percentage move.”
Wahlstrom played two seasons at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota, the same place Sidney Crosby and Zach Parise played, and have since had great NHL careers.
Currently committed to Harvard University (NCAA) next season, Wahlstrom could also turn to the QMJHL as he was selected by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
Wahlstrom is one of the more underrated forwards available in 2018, as forwards Filip Zadina, Andrei Svechnikov and Brady Tkachuk have been analyzed much more frequently. Having Rasmus Dahlin cemented as the first overall pick has also made discussions of other draft eligible players very limited to this point.
During Craig Button’s “Scout’s Honours” segment on TSN, Button named Wahlstrom the best stickhandler available during the 2018 NHL Draft.
As an assistant captain on the U18 National Team, Wahlstrom has displayed elite puck handling, playmaking ability, and has developed into a scoring threat from almost anywhere on the ice, each time he steps off the bench. He is currently leading his team in scoring with 82 points, goals (40), and assists (42), 18 points higher than linemate, captain, and fellow 2018 draft eligible forward Joel Farabee. Wahlstrom is also playing alongside centre Jack Hughes, a likely choice for the first overall pick during the 2019 NHL Draft.
U.S. National Junior Team Head Coach, Bob Motzko had the following to say about Oliver Wahlstrom. “He’s strong, doesn’t get tossed around, sticks his nose in there and when he skates he looks like [Buffalo Sabres centre] Jack Eichel.”
Since 2013, only 10 USHL forwards that were u18 at the start of their season have been able to score above a point-per-game AND shoot more than 3.9 shots per game. #2018NHLDraft eligible Oliver Wahlstrom is 3rd in PTS/GP among those forwards. pic.twitter.com/LRz22fVlwt
— S7 (@S7Dsn) March 30, 2018
With comparisons to a player who was selected second overall, only behind Connor McDavid, Wahlstrom could be an absolute steal for the team that selects him. If he continues to put up points, he could join the wave of American forwards sooner than later, that have made an impact at the NHL level, such as Eichel, Brock Boeser and Clayton Keller.
The decision now rests with Trevor Timmins and General Manager Marc Bergevin. The 2018 NHL Draft is quickly approaching, let’s hope the Canadiens use their first round pick wisely.