If Available, Should The Rangers Take Wahlstrom or Boqvist at Number Nine?
Adam Boqvist and Oliver Wahlstrom. Two guys who are almost guaranteed to be top-ten picks in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft on Friday night in Dallas. There’s been a lot of chatter about where exactly those two may fall within the top-ten, but recent mock drafts have either one or both falling to the ninth spot where they would be ripe for the taking by GM Jeff Gorton and the Rangers. Who would you rather be on the team? Let’s dive in.
Boqvist seemed to be a lock for a top-five spot in this draft. Earlier in the season, draft gurus and analysts had Boqvist going anywhere from third to fifth and being the second defenseman taken after Rasmus Dahlin. He has slipped on most draft boards, mainly due to questions about his size. At 5’11” and 164 pounds, Boqvist isn’t a large defenseman by any means, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an impact player in the NHL. Just ask Mats Zuccarello and Johnny Gaudreau what they think. Boqvist has an absolutely wicked shot and showed flashes of brilliance in international competition this year.
Boqvist seemed to thrive on the international stage and the kid can skate with the best of them. He has hands that rival those of some top-six forwards and has an extremely high hockey IQ. If he happens to fall to the Rangers at number nine, they would be hard pressed not to take him. With the loss of Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers blueline, Boqvist could be the franchise defenseman that this organization needs going forward. When you look at his stats from last season, Boqvist had 27 points (14G, 13A) in 47 regular season games while bouncing around various leagues in Sweden, and added another 17 points (5G, 12A) while representing his country at different IIHF tournaments in 2017-18.
On the other side of the coin, we have Oliver Wahlstrom. A dynamic, right-handed winger from the US National Development Program. This guy knows how to score goals, and was an internet sensation back in 2011 when he scored a sick goal during a Bruins intermission. He was an absolute force for the USNTDP Under-18 team this past season where he potted 48 goals and had 46 assists for 94 points in 62 games. Having a highly skilled winger like that in the Rangers pipeline would be absolutely amazing for this team going forward. Wahlstrom is described as being a natural goal scorer and a threat to score every time he steps onto the ice. The Rangers could really use a guy like that.
Internationally, Wahlstrom was fantastic at the Under-18 World Junior Championships this past season where he scored nine points in nine games, with seven of those points being goals. He knows how to step up in a big moment and has no problem scoring from the dirty areas in close to the net. He is the complete offensive package and with his elite shot and hockey sense, he would be very hard to pass up at ninth overall.
So which guy at nine? It’s a difficult choice but I think the Rangers would be better off going with Oliver Wahlstrom. After loading up on defensive prospects at the deadline with Libor Hajek, Ryan Lindgren and Yegor Rykov all joining the organization, the Rangers have a nice amount of young defensemen that could soon make an impact. They have no one in the organization like Wahlstrom. A shoot first guy with a deadly shot that will strike fear into opposing defenses.