CSS RANKING: 7th among NA Skaters
Video: One-on-one: Oliver Wahlstrom
A virtual lock to be one of the first forwards selected in the 2018 NHL Draft, Oliver Wahlstrom has no shortage of confidence. While he hasn't been talked about much as one of the next two to four prospects after projected top pick Rasmus Dahlin, Wahlstrom believes he should be - and perhaps he's right.
"I feel I'm right up with those guys," he said. "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."
That confidence has been paired with a ridiculous skill set, which includes an impressive shot.
"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," he said. "Humbly, I believe I have the best shot in this draft. I work on it every day."
Wahlstrom used that shot to score 40 goals in 54 games for the U18 U.S. National Team Development Program this past season. In USHL play alone, he potted 22 in 26 games and at the U18 World Junior Championship Wahlstrom added seven goals in seven games for the Americans.
The right-shot winger is a natural goal-scorer, who says he models his shot after Winnipeg's Patrik Laine, who has back-to-back 35-plus goal seasons in the NHL since being drafted in 2016.
"I like him a lot," said Wahlstrom. "We have similar release points and my childhood hero was Alex Ovechkin. I grew up watching him all the time, so those two players are my favorite."
Naming those two as players he models his style after is certainly aiming high, but Wahlstrom has the superb skill to maybe one day post his own big numbers in the NHL.
At the age of nine, Wahlstrom became an internet and television sensation with a ridiculously creative and skilled goal that made the rounds on YouTube. That creativity hasn't left his game.
"My imagination is big," he said. "I like to have a lot of fun."
Perhaps some of that imagination was fueled by his father, Joakim, a Swedish national who played for the University of Maine.
"It all started with my dad, who put down Plexiglass in the grassy area and just set up a shooting area for me when I was younger," Wahlstrom said. "I would just get my pucks from the garage and go out and shoot. It wasn't too hard where I needed someone to teach me how to shoot. All you need is a bucket of pucks and work on new angles and targets on your own. It was good for me."
Like his father before him, Wahlstrom is slated to take the college rout. He has committed to Boston College.
Chicago was one of the teams to meet with Wahlstrom at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo.
"It was good," he said. "We got the same questions, as always, but it's a cool organization and I'd be very lucky to go there."
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players." - NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale