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Photo Credit: NHL.com

CANUCKSARMY’S 2018 NHL DRAFT RANKINGS: #5 Oliver Wahlstrom

The U.S. National Team development program has long been a breeding ground for elite talent and with recent NHL graduates like Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Clayton Keller, and Matthew Tkachuk lighting up the NHL and presumptive 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes waiting in the wings, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Oliver Wahlstrom is another product of the USNTDP who’s quickly proving he belongs in the conversation with other recent graduates who have gone on to bigger and better things. He’s one of the best and most dynamic forwards the 2018 class has to offer, and is likely it’s best goal-scorer, which is good enough to land him in the fifth spot in our yearly draft rankings.

Bio

  • Age/Birthdate: 17.26 / June 13, 2000
  • Birthplace: Quincy, MA, USA
  • Frame: 6’1″ / 207 lbs
  • Position: C/RW
  • Handedness: R
  • Draft Year Team: U.S. National Team Development Program (USHL)
  • Accomplishments/Awards: U18 WJC All-Star Team, U18 WJC Silver Medal

Stats

Career

2017-18 Season

GP G A P SEAL INV% 5v5 Pr INV% 5v5 eP160 Sh/Gp Sh% GF% GF%rel GD60rel XLS% XPR xVAL
62 48 46 94 1.63 32.4% 25% 3.06 4.92 17% 74% 12.2% 1.75 100% 70.5 11.8

Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)

Team Relative

Our Take

Those of you that are extremely online or have a long memory may recognize Wahlstrom as the 9-year-old hockey phenom that scored this insane lacrosse goal back in 2009:

It was a viral sensation that put Wahlstrom on the hockey world’s radar, but also put a target on his back in minor hockey. From a young age, Wahlstrom was the focus of relentless pressure on the ice, often from much older kids. It would eventually help turn the young forward into a more well-rounded and mature player, along with father Joakim’s many tests for his son; which included making him take regular shifts at defense and insisting he pack his own hockey bag even as a young child.

It’s stories like these, and Wahlstrom’s humble and hungry attitude in interviews that have convinced me he’s more than capable of ironing out the defensive kinks in his game. And that’s really the only area that needs work. Offensively, he’s the whole package.

Wahlstrom’s shot is absolutely deadly. He has everything you want in a goal-scorer: power, accuracy, vision, and release, all of which are arguably the best on this class. Whether it was in international play, the USHL, or against college teams, Wahlstrom was able to fire off heavy and accurate shots often before goalies could even get set. While that shot gives him the ability to score from areas others wouldn’t be able to, he’s also not afraid to drive to the net. His two-step quickness and healthy 6-foot-one, 207-pound frame make him extremely hard to contain in high-danger areas. He also possesses high-end hockey sense. There are a lot of players that can rip the puck, but Wahlstrom sees the ice well enough that he can find the soft areas in defensive zone coverage. The way he can slip into prime areas unnoticed and fire off a one-timer or a wrist shot with laser-like accuracy reminds me a bit of Canucks wunderkind Brock Boeser… the difference being that Wahlstrom can play centre, and his skating and shot are more advanced than Boeser’s were at his age. He’s also an underrated playmaker who can dish cross-ice passes to his teammates under pressure and through traffic.

And if that wasn’t enough, he also shines by just about every statistical measure you could imagine. His 26-game sample in the USHL yielded the second-best scoring, era, age, and league (SEAL) among this draft’s crop behind only Andrei Svechnikov. When viewed through the lens of the prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS), Wahlstrom stands out as one of the draft’s only sure-fire home runs, finishing first among eligible prospects in expected production with 70.5 points per season, and an expected likelihood of success of 100%. In spite of concerns about Wahlstrom’s two-way commitment, he also finished with GF% well north of 70%.

Wahlstrom’s excellent pGPS data is largely due to the fact that his season yielded only one match: Thomas Vanek. Even then, Vanek only barely reached the threshold of similarity, being both older and a less prolific scorer in his draft year.

To put it succinctly, the team that selects Wahlstrom will be getting one hell of a player, who even has a decent shot at turning out to be the best forward in the draft when we look back on it in the years to come.

Further Reading

Consolidated Average Future Considerations Hockey Prospect.com ISS Hockey McKeen’s The Athletic TSN Bob McKenzie TSN Craig Button The Hockey News Sportsnet ESPN Dobber Prospects
7 6.6 5 6 5 7 $$ 9 9 8 6 7 6

 

From Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects:

Owns the best release in the class. The goal-scoring forward doesn’t shy away from attacking dangerous scoring areas and boasts strong speed and quick feet. A volume-shooter who is deadly from the left circle on the power-play. Feasts on penalty killers. Terrific pure puck skills. Off to Boston College in the fall. This kid is going to score a boatload of goals in the NHL.

CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings

#6 Jesperi Kotkaniemi #7 EVAN BOUCHARD
#8 TY SMITH #9 BRADY TKACHUK #10 ADAM BOQVIST
#11 ISAC LUNDESTROM #12 NOAH DOBSON #13 JOSEPH VELENO
#14 JOEL FARABEE #15 AKIL THOMAS #16 RYAN MERKLEY
#17 BARRETT HAYTON #18 RASMUS KUPARI #19 RYAN MCLEOD
#20 JONATAN BERGGREN #21 VITALI KRAVTSOV #22 ALEXANDER ALEXEYEV
#23 CALEN ADDISON #24 DOMINIK BOKK #25 SERRON NOEL
#26 MARTIN KAUT #27 DAVID GUSTAFSSON #28 JAKE WISE
#29 BODE WILDE #30 RASMUS SANDIN #31 COLE FONSTAD
#32 JETT WOO #33 ALLAN MCSHANE #34 K’ANDRE MILLER
#35 JACOB OLOFSSON #36 NATHAN DUNKLEY #37 NILS LUNDKVIST
#38 JONATHAN GRUDEN #39 FILIP HALLANDER #40 JARED MCISAAC
#41 NICOLAS BEAUDIN #42 JACK MCBAIN #43 TY DELLANDREA
#44 JESSE YLONEN #45 MATTIAS SAMUELSSON #46 JONNY TYCHONICK
#47 NIKLAS NORDGREN #48 AIDAN DUDAS #49 GRIGORI DENISENKO
#50 KYLE TOPPING #51 BLADE JENKINS #52 SEAN DURZI
#53 JACK DRURY #54 JAKUB LAUKO #55 JACOB RAGNARSSON
#56 ANDERSON MACDONALD #57 ADAM GINNING #58 FILIP KRAL
#59 ALBIN ERIKSSON # 60 ADAM SAMUELSSON #61 CAMERON HILLIS
#62 PHILIPP KURASHEV #63 BLAKE MCLAUGHLIN #64 MARCUS WESTFELT
#65 MILOS ROMAN #66 OSKAR BACK #67 GABRIEL FORTIER
#68 RILEY SUTTER #69 YEGOR SOKOLOV #70 ALEXANDER KHOVANOV
#71 CURTIS DOUGLAS #72 BENOIT-OLIVIER GROULX #73 SAMPO RANTA
#74 MARCUS KARLBERG #75 AXEL ANDERSSON #76 DAVID LILJA
#77 KODY CLARK #78 DMITRY ZAVGORODNY #79 LINUS NYMAN
#80 LIAM FOUDY #81 LINUS KARLSSON #82 JACHYM KONDELIK
#83 SCOTT PERNOVICH #84 G JAKUB SKAREK #85 TY EMBERSON
#86 JAY O’BRIEN #87 CARL WASSENIUS #88 VLADISLAV KOTKOV
#89 EMIL WESTERLUND #90 JERRY TURKULAINEN #91 STANISLAV DEMIN
#92 TYLER MADDEN #93 JAN JENIK #94 G OLIVIER RODRIGUE
#95 XAVIER BERNARD #96 KRISTIAN TANUS #97 LUKAS WERNBLOM
#98 NANDO EGGENBERGER #99 MATTHEW STRUTHERS #100 SHAWN BOURDIAS

  • The lack of high end D prospects scares the crap out of me. It’s why the Oilers are not a playoff team despite having McDavid. The fact that a player like Taylor Hall is required to get Adam Larsson (good, but not great) shows how difficult it would be to trade for top pairing D with offense. So I would begrudgingly pass on Wahlstrom for the best D available at #7.

    • I can see Montreal taking this guy over Zadina. They have been looking for a forward for a long time. This guy checks all the boxes. The truth is the Canucks need players at all positions. You don’t pass this guy up.

      • I disagree. It’s not an equal sum game. The canucks are far far weaker on D than they are at forward even though, yes, they are still weak up front. Fact is they have some nice pieces coming along up front but almost nothing on the back end. And for the millionth time…trade precedent has shown us forwards (wingers especially) cannot be traded for equivalent D talent, but D can be traded for superior forward talent.

        You most certainly pass this guy up if any of the “next four” defenders are still available in my opinion.

        • Using Peter Chiarelli and Jim Benning as your barometer for fair trades will get you some screwy results.

          Look to the Drouin / Sergachev and Jones / Johansen trades for examples of forwards (a winger and centre respectively) being traded for similar-talent defencemen.

        • Druin was a third over all pick with 3 NHL seasons under his belt including a 50 point season and he’s a Center which has more value than wing. Sergachev was a prospect with zero NHL experience. Higher forward for lesser value D.

          Johansen, also center, was a 30 goal scoring 70 point player at the time of the trade. Jones was an inconsistent young D with a couple of years experience who managed a couple of 25 point seasons but had question marks about his D ability. Again…higher value forward brought back lesser value D.

          Both of those examples clearly support my position.

          • D have more value than wingers, yes.

            But…………..being a prospect with zero NHL experience doesn’t give you ‘low value’ ie. Sergachev wasn’t a ‘low value’ d at the time of trade – he was one of the best defensive prospects in hockey. Seth Jones wasn’t ‘low value’ because he had only managed 25 points.

            It’s like saying Pettersson has low value right now because he’s never played in the NHL.

          • Drouin is not a center. He’s a winger that was forced to play center because Montreal’s GM is an idiot. If Drouin wasn’t francophone, Bergevin would never have made that deal.

          • Geezus dirk pay attention. I didn’t say they had “low value”. I said they were “lesser value” than the guy they traded for at the time of the trades. And they were. And it’s obvious.

            Seriously…what is wrong with your reading comprehension?

    • yep…I agree completely. People keep saying the Larsson trade was a “mistake” by Charelli but I don’t believe that. The guy put it out there that he was trading Tayler friggin Hall and that’s the best offer he got back. Does anyone really think that some other team made him a better offer but he said “naaa….I’ll take Larsson” ??? Come on…if another team had offered him a current top pairing young D for Hall, that player would be on the Oilers right now. Those offers never came because teams virtually never trade their top pairing talent. Simple as that.

      GM’s have set the value of D extremely high and as great as Wahlstrom would look on the canucks forward lines, it’s time to build that D.

      • This is some really bad logic.

        I put my hot rod up on Craigslist, and the best offer I get is $1000. The right thing to do is keep the hot rod. If Chiarelli wasn’t able to find a better deal for Hall, the smart thing to do would have been to *keep Hall*. Another trade opportunity will present itself at some point.

        You can win with a loaded forward group and a weak defence – see Pittsburgh’s back to back cups as exhibit A. Trading one of the top five wingers in the game for a second-pairing defenceman is dumb, regardless of how weak you think your D is.

        • I can’t help but remember when Benning said he didn’t want to trade Hamhuis for a low-ball offer because he didn’t want to develop a reputation as a pushover. He got skewered for making a stance. Chiarelli went down that path and look where it’s getting him.

        • Where did I say he should have made the trade?

          I’m not sure you understand logic very well if you can’t discern my analysis of a trade with giving an opinion on whether a trade was good or not, which I didn’t do.

      • Remember when Benning passed on Tkachuk to grab Juolevi instead. I don’t ever want to see something like that happen again. Columbus gave up a quality forward and got back a quality defenceman. Seth Jones.

        • Benning clearly stated that Juolevi was #5 on their list. Tkachuk was six. It was not positional, it was their ranking of BPA.

          Tkachuk is a handy middle six forward with high hockey IQ and below average skating.

          I doubt a team is going to make a Tkachuk for Sergechev trade, or a Tkachuck for Juolevi trade. What exactly is the “that” you do not want to see again??

          • Nah, Tkachuk is a beast. Legit potential to be a 40-goal player who drives other teams bat-sh**. The kid was a steal at #6

        • It’s hard to see if he can play center at the NHL level. He was only put on RW exclusively for this season, he was playing center last year. But I can’t find any info on how he played when he was at center.

          • Yeah, I was curious to see him listed as a centre. I think he moved to the wing so he could form the top line with Jack Hughes at centre, but there is no guarantee he can transition back to centre. I guess you could hope that one of Wahlstrom or Pettersson could play centre and the other plays wing. That would be 2/3 of a top line with Boeser and Horvat forming 2/3 of the second line. It does leave the ongoing gaping hole on D.

    • I hear you Pilgrim, but BPA is what we need to do. Centers are extremely important to being a contender, and a top scorer with some size is not to be overlooked.

      Tie goes to the defenseman, but I won’t complain at all if we end up with Wahlstrom. Actually I’d be pretty stoked, remember when our team scored goals? That was fun…………

      I’ve seen enough Canucks teams grind it out over the years, I won’t complain if they go high octane and figure the D out later. Sure, Edmonton isn’t making it work, but Chiarelli is as bad as it gets, surely someone, if not JB, could figure out a way to put the puzzle pieces together. I’m expecting Demko to be better than Talbot, which would help, a run and gun team with top goaltending wouldn’t be that far off. Vegas almost did it with less.

      • I agree with a lot of this actually. But he’s not a guarantee at center. If he can do it in the middle then yeah, I’d say that raises his value to be up more in line with the importance of D.

        You’re right. It’s fun to have a scoring team. But what’s even more fun is a machine like the 11 canucks who did pretty much everything perfectly. Offense, Defense, special teams, lead the league in all of them pretty much.

        I like your point about the goal tending though. That is true. Having a “game changer” in net can be a huge factor that compensates for a weaker D. It’s such a quick changing variable though.

        Again, if the canucks think this kid is the better option, I’m willing to wait and see. But I still think D is the way to go. They’ll be another Wahlstrom next year. Good O is nearly always available every draft year but depth at D isn’t.

  • This is the kind of kid I like. See the numbers, see that he’s pretty much dominated at every level with high point totals. Got the size etc… I suppose if the canucks do decide to go for a forward it’d better be him.

    Still prefer any of the D though even if this kid might be the “BPA” at the time. Again…the cost to get D is just too high to not start taking some now.

  • Something about him and the anecdotes about his father reminds me of Adam Banks, the kid in The Mighty Ducks who found out he has to play for the Ducks instead of the Hawks whereupon his dad has a huge temper tantrum. Isn’t that lacrosse goal pretty much this generation’s version of the unstoppable triple deke move?

    • Rathbone,Juolevi,Tryamkin,Hutton,Brisebois-all LHD.
      The Canucks need RHD and a playmaker that can change the franchise’s fortunes.Quinn Hughes fits the bill.
      Wahlstrom is a potential first line player with elite skill.
      The same can not be said for Dobson or Bouchard.

        • Boqvist has suffered two head injuries/concussions in the last season.
          RHD Bouchard is not an elite skater.
          RHD Dobson’s shot is not elite.
          Hughes is a LHD -my bad-which means the Canucks may will be focusing in on Wahlstrom or Kotkaniemi should he be gone.
          If he’s still on the board at #7 it’s the Canucks call.

  • This is the player I hope that drops to us at 7th. Then I would go deep and use our next 4 picks on defensemen hoping we get lucky through sheer volume.

  • Pick Wahlstrom – predict he’ll out-perform Svech & Zadina – possesses absolutely sick hands & a Boeser-like shot. Get the D-man in the 2nd round unless Wahlstrom’s gone.

  • Not gonna lie this is one of the shortest/simplest articles of the whole top 100 and it’s for player #5! Why no explanation of any of the advanced stats? Isn’t that was CanucksArmy is known for? After reading the Kotkaniemi article, this one was a bore.

  • Pretty compelling info to take Wahlstrom if he is available. I wonder if NYI would trade one of their picks for Tanev. Their D was horrible, and adding Tanev might help Lou sign Tavares. Then the Canucks could take Ty Smith or another D prospect.

    • Which D was Lou high on I can’t remember. Tanev or Guddy? Whichever one it was trade him for the 11th plus their second. Ya ya I know. You know the old saying, dare to dream.

    • IF Wahlstrom is available at 7 the Canucks are taking him 100%. Boeser moved our power play into the top 10, adding EP and OW in a year would jack our offensive attack into top 5-6 in the league. HE won’t be there’s at 7 and Hughes won’t Be there either. Maybe tchuck falls. OW is a Centre and only moved to wing for NHL top pick next year Hughes. OW will be BPA at 7 no doubt but sadly we won’t have a chance but will end up with top. pairing D.

    • As a life long Islander fan and Vancouver resident, no Lou would not do that trade maybe three years ago, Tanev is damaged. Now one of those picks for Demko kiddy up andLoy might even consider throwing in his second round (F)Lames pick.

      • Nope the Canucks need goaltending. I’d trade Markstrom before I traded Demko. Add him in a package with Sutter and Baerschi and either Tanev or Guddy (Perferably Guddy) and see if he goes for the 11th and whichever second is higher.

  • If he falls to us, unless Hughes is available, we gotta take him, I don’t know why is isn’t more in top 5 conversations. He looks like he is going to be the Petterson of this draft, out shining people drafted before him.

  • I don’t see taking any player outside of the big three being a better pick. If he is available at 7 take the gift. As much as we need D, they are a bit higher risk. It just seems harder to project D men and their success.