If Oliver Wahlstrom’s name rings a bell, it might be because you heard of him when he was a nine-year-old hockey prodigy.
Wahlstrom and a few other kids were invited to TD Garden before a Boston Bruins game to showcase their unique talents.
He did not disappoint and went viral with this goal.
Wahlstrom has since turned himself into one of the top prospects in hockey, displaying the hand skills, hockey sense and scoring ability that have him earmarked to be among the first 10 players called at this year’s NHL Draft.
Here’s what we know about him.
From: Yarmouth, Maine
Weight: 207 pounds
HIGH HOCKEY IQ
If there’s one thing you want to be known for in this game, it’s playing the right way.
“A sensational scoring threat, Oliver Wahlstrom is a fierce competitor that preys on weak play,” says Curtis Joe from Eliteprospects.com. “He exploits gaps in the neutral zone; his positioning allows him to carry the puck forward immediately or shift up and into stride off an outlet pass. He promptly takes easy lanes away from the opposition at his own blue line…
“Offensively, he might be described as uncontainable; the confidence he has in his individual puck skill, paired with a high level of thinking, makes him a difficult cog to take out of the alignment. He is able to create opportunities for himself, as well as teammates, out of nothing; this, in turn, translates to energy on the ice and in the building as a whole. All-in-all, Oliver Wahlstrom is an instinct-driven hockey player gifted with the size, skating, skill, and smarts that coaches yearn for.”
Wahlstrom’s is committed to Boston College for the 2018-19 season.
Wahlstrom’s year with the U.S. National Development Team was prolific, to put it mildly.
He scored 22 goals and had 45 points in 26 games with the junior squad against USHL competition and managed 48 goals and 94 points in 62 games with the National Under-18 team.
Wahlstrom also had seven goals and nine points in seven games at the recent World Under-18 Junior Championship, finishing second at the tournament in goals.
HE’S LIKE EICH
Wahlstrom’s size, speed and scoring ability had one person comparing him to 2015 second overall pick and Buffalo Sabres centre Jack Eichel.
“He’s strong, doesn’t get tossed around, sticks his nose in there, and when he skates he looks like Jack Eichel,” said U.S. National Junior team coach Bob Motzko. “He’s effortless up and down the rink and can really shoot the puck.
DAD TAUGHT HIM THE WAY
Wahlstrom’s father Joakim was a standout player at the University of Maine and played two seasons of pro hockey in Sweden.
“Dad played with a lot of speed, up and down the ice,” Wahlstrom told NHL.com’s Mike Morreale back in December. “My creativity and ability to slow the pace down and make everyone around me read off each other are important. It’s important to get into those dirty areas to create scoring chances.”
LUCKY NO. 7
Dan Marr of NHL Central Scouting has Wahlstrom ranked seventh among North American skaters. It’s where he put the forward in both the mid-term and final rankings.
In our most recent draft rankings, Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino had Wahlstrom going sixth overall, while the prognosticators at Futureconsiderations.ca and McKeen’s Hockey had him seventh.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman, who put him seventh at the end of January said: “He has a very desirable combination of high-end skill and shot in a big body. Wahlstrom has the capability to carry a line due to his skill and creativity, and generates a lot of clean entries.”
Wahlstrom isn’t often mentioned in the same class as the first three forwards expected to go, Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina and Brady Tkachuk, but perhaps he should be.
“I feel I’m right up with those guys,” he told NHL.com. “If you look at how I produced this year I am right up with them. They’re awesome players, tremendous guys, I know a few of them, but that’s just how I was born and raised – to be the best.
“I think my game is (being) a big, strong power forward with a lot of skill and creativity but I think my shot is my biggest asset. Humbly, I believe I have the best shot in this draft. I work on it every day.”
The Red Wings, Canucks and Blackhawks pick sixth, seventh and eighth.