2018 NHL Draft Profile: Oliver Wahlstrom

oliver wahlstrom
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

It’s official. The Rangers officially slipped one spot from eighth overall to ninth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Rangers stay in the top ten, and while they don’t get the coveted Rasmus Dahlin, they can still land  a potential top line forward or top pairing defenseman with that pick.

The best part of the draft is that someone is going to reach. Brady Tkachuk, who is probably more of a top-ten than a top-five, could go in the top five. Depending on how highly GMs rate some of the defensemen, there’s a chance someone like Oliver Wahlstrom, currently the fifth ranked skater, could fall four spots to nine.

Wahlstrom is one of five forwards ranked in the top ten, and he’s also the most likely of the bunch to fall to the Rangers at nine. The 6′, 205 lb center currently plays for the US NDTP team, and he put up 22-23-45 in 26 games. He is a shooter with an elite level shot, something the Rangers sorely need. I mean, the kid can put the puck anywhere with a hard, accurate shot with one of the quickest releases in the draft.

Beyond his shot, Wahlstrom is very strong on the puck, using his size to his advantage. He doesn’t steamroll his opponents, but he’s very difficult to move off the puck. When you couple that with his stickhandling ability, you have a potential offensive dynamo. He can skate, manage the puck extremely well, create offense, and of course use that lethal shot of his.

He isn’t a speedster, but when Wahlstrom gets going, he’s a little like Juggernaut. He’s tough to stop and he can be a freight train. His vision on the ice is at elite levels as well, and when you combine it with his raw talent, there’s the potential for a top line player. He just reads the game so well. It’s why he’s not a pure shooter, which is easy to predict and shut down. He’s an all around offensive force.

Assuming the Rangers can’t get into the top three, Wahlstrom is the guy I want them to target in the top-ten. There’s a chance he can fall to Rangers if some of the teams ahead of the Blueshirts reach for someone outside the top ten, or if they just become enamored with the oodles of defensemen projected to go in the top-ten. That said, even if they miss out on Wahlstrom, there are those oodles of other guys who are worthy of a top-ten pick.

"2018 NHL Draft Profile: Oliver Wahlstrom", 5 out of 5 based on 15 ratings.
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  1. My faves in this draft (other than Dahlin, obviously) are Zadina and Wahlstrom.

    Zadina is a pipe dream but Wahlstrom could be had with a trade up to #5, with the Yutes. Yutes looking for a vet winger for Stepan which implies Zuc, so a trade is very possible there, with the Yutes moving down to #9 and probably picking a D man, which there will be plenty of at #9.

    The first 4 are pretty well set though Wahlstrom could leap Tkachuk at #4 since his stock is rising.

    BTW, food for thought, my boys saying the Rangers like Farabee (the guy I have been talking about) a lot, which could mean a trade down, depending on how the draft is going.

    1. Just read Farabee’s scouting report on “The Draft Analyst” and I would be very cool with him. Seems like he plays big and with Heart. And at 6 foot he has room to grow and mature.

      1. I have read that Joel is a tireless worker.

        So remember that as Gorton is looking for talented AND hard working players, because they thought (and correctly so) that the Rangers were too easy to play against the last couple of years.

        My guys are telling me that they hear that the Rangers might believe that Farabee is more talented than Wahlstrom.

        1. Hey Pal

          Farabee isn’t an elite forward. More like Andersson. We cant do this again at 9. However, if they want to trade up for him than I suppose he would be ok.

          1. We need a run on defenseman on the picks above us. If 4 defenseman are picked ahead of us, we should be able to get a very good forward; if only 2 selected, guys like Wahlstrom could be gone.

          2. 100% Sal. We can only hope for your first scenario. It could happen as AZ, Hawks, etc. need D men.

          3. AZ don’t need D in 3 years, they need a F they can plug in tomorrow. Walt the third or they deal to get that player.

          4. AZ is going to need to replace OEL so if they stand at #5 I think they go D man.

        2. I don’t know as I could sign off on Farabee>Wahlstrom personally, just because I think Wahlstrom has such an enticing ceiling IMO. To note however, Farabee was the U18 USNT captain, and Gorton has mentioned character nearly every time a mic has been put in front of him lately. Wahlstrom allegedly has an up and down game at times at this stage; although his compete level is not openly in-question, it has been noted that he disappears sometimes in games that aren’t going so well for his team. Farabee also has a reputation for being well ahead of many of his peers when it comes to his 200 foot game, which Gorton showed is important to him with the Andersson pick.

          Absolutely ridiculous how some people have written off Farabee for his size and that alone – because there is absolutely no other reason about his game to do so – to note. Amazing to see so many fans still so adamantly concerned with size, when they are fans of an organization featuring a top-six winger nicknamed The Hobbit, who has arguably the most heart on the team, and went undrafted for one reason and one reason only. To note, Farabee isn’t even that small. If he’s got the most skill on the board in the front office’s estimation and they pick him, that is a lot more respectable approach to me than assigning extra value based on build and reaching for that, instead.

          1. I read about Farabee about 6 months ago. I figured the Rangers would be drafting around 15 so I started looking at guys in the 10 to 20 spot rankings and I read about Joel.

            There is only one need for size: To not get knocked of the puck or to be able to battle for pucks.

            Seeing comments like “tireless worker” or “if anyone says that there are other players that work harder than Farabee, then please tell me who they are…” are testimonies to the kid’s work ethic.

            And yes, I have mentioned that too, that Gorton is targeting “character guys.” Howden is viewed as a tremendous leader and potential Captain some day. So is Andersson. Hajek is said to play like a beast during games. Rykoff just played 60 effing minutes in one game.

            Farabee seems to fit the traits that the Rangers are looking for right now. Can he be taken at 9? IDK about that, but taking someone at 9 and then using the late picks to trade up to get Farabee, as suggested above, could be very worth it.

          2. The height is fine, but he’s 15 lbs off where you would want him to be. You can have all the skill and all of the character; if you’re so slight a stiff breeze keeps you off the puck, you’ve got problems.

          3. While that’s fair enough, I think adding weight is a much smaller challenge than concerns about skill, of course. Farabee doesn’t strike me as a player who competes for an NHL spot imminently, so he should have time to add bulk in a constructive manner on the right programs/regimens.

          4. We’re in year 3 of beefing up Buchnevich, he’s now at a weight he should’ve been at when he was drafted.

            The farther away you are from the mean for height, the longer & harder it is to get to an effective playing weight.

            It’s not the be all, end all of metrics(especially when elite skill will more than make up for it) but it’s a yellow light.

        3. Richter1994…..
          Did Gorton really say the Rangers were too easy to play against the last couple of years?
          Isn’t he the ”Jerk” who let Viktor Stallberg sign elsewhere????
          Stallberg is a very good 3-4th line player who is one of the hardest hitting forwards in the NHL.
          Didnt Gorton also trade JT Miller…..another player who is a very hard hitter!!!!! Both these players have laid out plenty of opponents…….
          Didn’t he let Eric Stall walk away also….? How many players has Stall laid out from his center position over the years….besides his brother whose career he almost ended……
          Now he has a revelation we need to be tougher to play against……Here is my revelation….We need a new GM!!!!!!
          My first order of business would be to trade for Matt Martin…….

    2. TSN after the lottery had Wahlstrom falling to 9 in their mock draft, which would mean no reason to even trade up that far to get him.

      As for Tkachuk, he is a name that many of the Dumb GM’s in the league will not let slide. If he does go in the top 8, it means the “real top 8” that many said were strong and a drop off after, the Rangers will still get a top talent.

      1. Yeah I saw that Mike on TSN, but I would be shocked if he’s there at 9, it would be a minor miracle if he is.

        The Hawks, who need D men, may take him just because of his talent. The best we can hope for is that there is a run on D men from 5 to 8.

        1. Tkachuk is better than his brother who plays for the Flames. He would be a nice get if he slides.

          1. I still would rather have Wahlstrom. I fear that Tkachuk is one of those “names” that will carry weight as to his draft spot. I hope he goes top 4 so other picks slide down.

          2. I would rather have Wahlstrom too. I think the Tkachuk is a heck of a consolation prize

    3. Perhaps Rangers can send Zuc + #9 + 2nd rounder for the #4 pick and then package their latter two 1st rounders to move up and grab Farabee.

      1. Wow, I like that a lot. Get both Wahlstrom AND Farabee? That would be a fantastic haul.

        Love it.

        1. I see we have posters that have no clue about this draft.

          Maybe it’s time to get educated. Maybe.

      2. I would really hope that Zucc plus the #9 would be enough, Zucc has a lot of value despite what some people seem to think. Zucc alone should get you a #1 in the 16-31 range.

        1. 5×5 one of the Top 35 forwards in the league but the short length in contract (remaining) is what may hurt his trade value. Maybe a late 2nd or 3rd is more appropriate as the kicker.

  2. OLIVER WAHLSTROM, sign me up right now!!!!!!!!!!!!

    There are so many directions that this draft could go, and as much as I’d like Oliver, there will be a very good player added to our roster, this much I’m sure of. Tony above mentions Zucc as a piece of trade bait to go to the desert dogs, and as much as I love my little man, he is getting older, and is slowing down a bit. We have to make a move. Let’s also face the facts, his best buds Haglin, and Brass were traded off, and he was hurt by those moves, and has shown in his play somewhat. He is a heart and soul player, and will be missed, but every players time comes up, eventually!!!!!!!!!

  3. As Gordon said, we need to be tougher to play against! That is TKACHUK..
    He’s not the sniper or instant star we need, but he does all the other things that
    we definately can use..
    If we move up to 4 with Ottawa maybe something like swap 9 and the 4 Hayes or Spooner and our 1st 2nd round pick and a prospect.
    Keep Zuc until the trading deadline..
    If we stay at 9 we use the pick on maybe someone like Dobson or Bouchard they would also be good picks. And if Wahlstrom is there at 9 take him..

      1. I agree fully with the point that tough to play against is not exactly the same as tough/gritty/etc. Toughness is necessary to a degree, of course, but it isn’t what predominantly adds points in the upper tier standings in the modern NHL. The Penguins are tough to play against, but not particularly tough – even with Reeves in tow. The Flyers are big and play tough; we know what happened when those two met. The Ducks were considered one of the heavier, tougher teams in the playoffs…got swept nonetheless, by a Sharks team that is good, but not world-beating. We’ve been over this before; many more examples in recent years. The biggest/grittiest/toughest teams in the NHL right now are not the ones you usually see playing playoff games well into May, unless they also happen to have the requisite level of above average skill required (Nashville, for example).

        Guys similar to Tkachuk will be available later, and we also (should) know that his name alone, like his brother, has done him favors to this point. While I’m not saying that he is a bad player or a future bust, what’s his best case scenario? Seems to be about what Matthew is, since although Brady doesn’t seem to see the ice as well according to reports, it is said his skating is a bit better. So, ~50 points ceiling as a dream pick for many in this fan base is suddenly okay so long as they have a good bit of rat in them?

        There are too many players in this draft with projected higher ceilings than Tkachuk, and the Rangers made the safe lower-ceiling pick last year with Andersson, who has plenty of fire in him even though he is not a rat. Time to go for sheer upside, and especially so if they are going to trade up, IMO. I’ll be livid if Tkachuk is a Ranger via being selected anywhere before ninth. There is absolutely no need to trade up for a player with a ceiling that is projected to be that limited.

        1. Egelstein,
          The Penguins are a tough team and a dirty team….led by Crosby and Letang…..but all of their forwards hit……
          The Bruins, Winnipeg and Predators are all BIG and every one HITS……
          The sharks traded for Evander Kane and the lightning for JT Miller because their GM’s know the value of big hard hitting players………

          1. I believe I saw it said elsewhere that the Rangers are 5th and 6th ranked in average height and average weight. The Bruins have more skaters under 6 feet tall or under 200lbs. than the Rangers do, and their reputation would not be nearly so blown up if not for having the biggest rat in the league. Letang sure is dirty, Crosby can be, but dirtiness and toughness are not the same thing; Malkin I would say is their better example of toughness + skill. For all the whining on Rangers sites about Hughes being soft, watch Kessel closely for a game; some nights he literally avoids hits. The Sharks and Preds laid down less hits in the regular season than the Rangers did. Of the top four teams in hits last season, one made the playoffs…and they got swept by the expansion team. Tampa is one of the smaller teams overall in the league if not the smallest, and they hit about on par with the Rangers. They also led the league in points for much of the year, of course.

            I think we also should keep in mind that AV did not seem to emphasize hitting to any high degree, not to mention he also did not seem to have much of a tolerance for penalties. For most of the young guys, the quickest way to get minutes snipped seemed to be to take a “stupid” penalty…speaking of JT Miller. I didn’t always agree with AV’s response to penalties, mind you – some of those “stupid” ones were unintentional while trying to play with more toughness, it seemed to me. If the coach isn’t bonkers for hitting, one of the more obviously-cited signs of toughness, then the players can hurt their standing by going crazy with it against the coach’s wishes.

            JT and Kane also light up the score sheet plenty. I think perhaps that had more to do with their acquisitions than how many hits they lay down, but perhaps we would have to agree to disagree on that.

            I called out the Preds as an exception to the rule, and the Jets also would fit there too, indeed. They’ve had some nice picks and/or trades to work with to build their teams; a luxury the Rangers haven’t really had in the last decade (for various reasons, of course, including decimating their own picks trading for big names). They have elite players and size and toughness, not just size and toughness. Nice luxury. There’s a reason there are only a few examples.

            Another thing to keep in mind however is that the Rangers not too long ago were so enamored with toughness that they went and took a bruiser reputation player whose skill was in question with the initial first-round pick. I assume you know of whom I speak and how that turned out, and I assume you are also familiar with some of the names selected not too long after that and how they turned out.

      2. Dave….
        [Did you really just put a link to an article you wrote to make your point?]
        Anyway, I posted above teams dont like to play against teams that is loaded with ”heavy hitters”……… years ago teams hated playing the Bruins and the Flyers ”hitters and fighters”’…….in fact Bobby B shared an interview he heard with Steve Vickers who made it clear they hated to play the flyers because of all their goons and Emile Francis never kept any on the rangers and thats why….according to Vickers the rangers never won , despite being more talented.
        So why did gorton trade or not resign….Viktor Stallberg, Jt Miller or Eric Stall…..our 3 ”heavy hitters” ……..stupidity!!!!!

        1. I always post links to things I’ve written in the past. That way I don’t need to re-hash everything. Plus, clicks and pageviews!

          And you said it yourself Rich, “years ago.” It’s 2018, not years ago. The game has changed.

    1. Trading up to get a guy less skilled but tough on the puck is a mistake.

      When you have a chance to get top skill you go for it.

    2. I think in the system we have started to address the toughness factor by adding Lindgren and Howden in particular. Rykov and Hajek don’t not look like pushovers either. We need to be tougher, but I am not sure I chase that need in the first round. I am not sure I would trade up much to get Tkachuk over Wahlstrom.

  4. Wahlstrom would be a slam dunk. But what if Walhstrom and Boqvist or another elite D man are both available? That becomes a tough choice. But as bad as our D has been I think a guy like Walhstrom fills a big need. No matter how it works out we are going to get an elite talent at 9. I am fine with trading up at a reasonable price. I also wonder if packaging the lower two 1st together to get a higher pick in the middle of the first round may make more sense than giving up a bunch of assets to move from 9 to say 4 or 5?

  5. Oliver Wahlstrom possibly dropping to 9 tells you how good this draft is. I watched him in the U 18…just wow. He played on a line with Jack Hughes and they were dynamic. Hughes and Wahlstrom in Ranger blue has possibilities and awesome if it happened.
    Slight chance he drops….the 2 teams that good grab him are Coyotes and Blackhawks. Slight chance Detroit will nab him….Better chance Detroit picks up Quinn Hughes.

    At 9 one of Wahlstrom, Bouchard and Dobson will be available.
    All 3 are gone I would take Hayton not Farabee

    Good pieces as targets by trading back into the draft at 11 – 15 are Wilde Kotkaniemi and Veleno (Steal or bust). Kotkaniemi could be this years Andersson that he could go higher than where he is projected. My only gripe with the Andersson pick now is that we could’ve traded down and got him at 10-12 and picked up assets

    Martin Kaut is fluctuating so much that it is hard to figure where he will land but he is a good target

    Guys that would be nice but out of our reach due to position are Noel, Kravtsov, McLeod and Kupari

    Stay way clear of Ty Smith, Ryan Merkley, Adam Bovqist, Akil Smith, K’Andre Miller, Grigori Denisenko, Jared McIssac (2nd round good pick) and Calen Addison. These guys are complimentary players to a good contending team not players you build with.

    1. This is one heck of a draft. First round quality players through the first 3 rounds. I would not want to trade any of our first or even our second round picks. I would trade a roster player or two even for another 1st rounder

  6. My predictions for the draft:
    1. Some team will make a totally off the wall pick, dropping a top player down at least one place.
    2. Some team will pick a “can’t miss” player whose career never gets out of the AHL.
    3. Some totally undervalued player will turn out to be one of the top 3 or 4 players in this draft.

    1. You need to add to #3….”and Ranger fans will be irate that we passed on him at #9″

      Hopefully we do not feel both of #’s 2 & 3.

    2. and THAT’s why, people thinking that they can build a team totally through the draft is off base.

      Well done.

  7. If we trade up, it should be for Quinn Hughes at 4-5. The top 3 is a pipe dream and wont happen.

    Hughes is Brian Leetch in my opinion.

    1. Quinn Hughes made Team USA for the 2018 IIHF Men’s World Championships, which begins on Friday (televised on NHL Network). Kreider and Pionk are also playing for the US. He has a chance to elevate his draft status.

  8. Gorton needs to see if the player he wants is still available at say the 5th or 6th pick. If he is, he might be poised to make a move and trade up, but this will all be based on the first 5 picks. If someone takes a pick rated lower than top 6, he may wait another pick.

    Either way, I highly doubt these are elite players in 2018/19. That is for the first pick in the draft. We may get a player who turns into a stud in a few years though. I would bet he moves some picks and players on draft day.

    1. He will surely do something as he has so many pieces to play with. If the player he wants at #5 is there I would have no problem with him trading up. I would also take a 12-16 pick over 2 late 1st round picks so I hope he does that as well. 2 Top forwards in first 16 picks would be ideal for me.

      1. And to think, we have 2 months to discuss who they should pick.

        Anyone see the highlights of the Vegas game. What a tying goal by SJ and then the winning goal in OT (Vegas). As I watch these teams, it hurts to know we are not nearly as competitive as these teams.

    2. These picks are fungible assets. If you like a bunch of players and you like them well enough, then trade down within that range and accumulate more assets. Use your assets to potentially move up to get a guy in a different range that you want.

      Look at the NFL, where smart operators are moving down and up within the same draft so as to get value any way they can.

      The million dollar question is how you assign value to a player in a limited data environment. Kids playing in Euro men’s leagues has crazy issues(but better data.) while the CHL doesn’t have much beyond boxcar stats.

      For me, the ideal equation(off draft data available) would be (GP*ppg)/GF%

      There would have to be a world of adjustments for league, position & ice time, but beyond that, your only true projection is how early a player makes it to the parent club. A player who comes in at 18 and is a serviceable player would likely have more value than a good player who takes until he’s 23 to make the club.

  9. Wahlstrom is probably good enough to try to trade up in an effort to grab him. If he is available at #9 I’d be quite happy but very surprised. Farabee is fine if you can’t grab Wahlstrom. Tkachuk is probably gone already by the time the Rangers pick. Between Tkachuk and Wahlstrom, I am thinking that I’d go for Wahlstrom. (Apologies to the workhorse, Walter Robert Bogdan Tkaczuk!)

    1. They do, but that’s a current need that this draft will not address.

      What they really need is a top end skilled forward, something they haven’t drafted since Kovalev. That’s way too long a drought.

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