Oliver Wahlstrom – An Unlikely NHL Draft Target

First off, I want to make one thing very clear, Rasmus Dahlin will be the first pick in the draft for the Buffalo Sabres (duh), and as a Buffalo Sabres fan, I can’t properly express how excited I am to see him in blue and gold.

That said, with all the rumors swirling about a shake-up needed in Buffalo, a shake-up that could result in the loss of key players such as Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart (please, no), or Rasmus Ristolainen, I want to draw some attention to another draft prospect that I absolutely love. I’m referring to a kid who has become my personal draft-crush for 2018, Oliver Wahlstrom. Many of you hockey nerds have probably heard names like Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina, or maybe even Quinn Hughes or Adam Boqvist up to this point. But, I want to draw your attention to a guy who I think will be the face of American hockey alongside Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews, and that is the aforementioned American, Oliver Wahlstrom. (Bonus points in my book for him being an American).

Wahlstrom-Getty Images2
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Before I lay out my master plan for acquiring this beast, I want to share with you some incredible videos and scouting reports on Oliver. From the age of 9 he was already going viral on YouTube with some jaw-dropping shootout goals. Check this ish out…

and another…

Incredible for anyone at any age, let alone 9 years old, right?

Wahlstrom has hyped early, and it didn’t stop at 9. He made headlines again at age 13 when he committed to Maine to play NCAA D1 hockey. He eventually decommitted at 14 before making his committment to Harvard at 15. At 15, I was still deep into an addiction to Call of Duty, not deciding between playing D1 hockey at Maine or Harvard. Turns out, the latest rumors have him playing hockey for Boston College should he go the college route as expected. Plenty of options for a talent like him.

Now at 17, Wahlstrom finds himself amongst the top prospects in this years draft. Wahlstrom is a goal-scoring machine and in my opinion, makes him the top option behind Andrei Svechnikov amongst scoring wingers. In his recent season under the USNTDP (USA Hockey National Team Development Program), Wahlstrom scored 48 goals in 62 games, totaling 94 points. He is a pure sniper. While it is clear that he has the ability to put pucks in the net, he also has many other desirable characteristics. At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, he has the size necessary to take a few hits when necessary. He has the capability to create with the puck, carrying his line if needed, creating plays along the way. Wahlstrom has an elite ability to score from any distance, finding the right shooting lanes and possessing the patience and timing to hit on his shots.

Wahlstrom giphy
Credit: The Athletic

How Does Buffalo Acquire Wahlstrom?

He’s everything the Sabres could want in a winger to have alongside Jack Eichel on the top line, however unlikely it is to actually happen. As I mentioned earlier, I have a plan to acquire Oliver. Now, Wahlstrom is being slotted in the top-10 almost unanimously amongst scouts and draft nerds, and while I personally have him as my #3 prospect (behind Dahlin and Svechnikov), I think his range to get drafted is anywhere between 4 and 10.

In order to land Oliver the Sabres would most definitely need to part with one of Ristolainen, Reinhart or O’Reilly. I see no reason to trade Risto or Reinhart. With Dahlin coming in, Risto has a ton of pressure lifted off of him and he can go down to a reasonable number of minutes per game which should hopefully result in some more consistency in his game. As for Reinhart, I think we caught a glimpse of the player he can be for us in the second half of the year. I’m nowhere near ready to give up on him. That leaves Ryan O’Reilly, who at the end of the year made some alarming comments about his love for the game. Were they blown out of proportion? Probably. Should they be ignored? No. If the end result is to shake-up the roster (much like the Avalanche did, which resulted in a playoff berth a year after finishing dead-last by a mile), then parting with O’Reilly needs to be considered. All that said, it’s a little crazy because defining the value of a player with a massive contract like Ryan’s. They can proven time and time again to be tough to move regardless of how good the play is at times. O’Reilly is a very good center. His two-way game is highly sought after. Finding a trade partner shouldn’t be difficult, but finding the proper value in return will.

I’ll quit the rambling and get down to business, here’s the trades that I could see happening:

The “easy” route…
To Buffalo:
Pick #3 (take Oliver Wahlstrom)
2019 3rd Round Conditional Pick

To Montreal:
Ryan O’Reilly
2019 Mid-Round Conditional Pick


The prospect swap:
To Buffalo:
Pick #3 (take Oliver Wahlstrom)
Victor Mete

To Montreal:
Ryan O’Reilly
Alexander Nylander

(The above is my preferred option)
To Buffalo:
Pick #5 (take Oliver Wahlstrom)
Max Domi
2019 Mid-Round Conditional Pick

To Arizona:
Ryan O’Reilly
Alexander Nylander

There you go Buffalo. Go get yourself both Rasmus Dahlin and Oliver Wahlstrom.

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