Oliver Wahlstrom puts on a New York Islanders jersey after being selected by the team during the NHL draft in Dallas on Friday.

Yarmouth native Oliver Wahlstrom was taken by the New York Islanders with the 11th overall pick in the NHL draft Friday night, becoming the first Maine native selected in the first round.

Oliver Wahlstrom has played in the U.S. National Team Development Program for the past two years and plans to attend Boston College before turning pro. A hockey analyst called him “the best goal-scorer in the draft.”

The only Americans selected ahead of Wahlstrom were two college players – forward Brady Tkachuk of Boston University, taken fourth by Ottawa, and Michigan defenseman Quintin Hughes, who went seventh to Vancouver.

Wahlstrom grew up in Yarmouth and played for North Yarmouth Academy before going to prep school in Minnesota and then joining the U.S. National Development Team Program. He plans to attend Boston College this fall, and the Islanders would retain Wahlstrom’s rights until he leaves college and turns pro.

Previously, three Maine players were drafted in the second round – Eric Weinrich of Gardiner in 1985 (32nd overall), Brian Dumoulin of Biddeford in 2009 (51st) and Brian Hart of Cumberland in 2012 (53rd).

Wahlstrom, a 6-foot-1, 207-pound forward, was called “the best goal-scorer in the draft” by draft analyst Craig Button. He starred for the U.S. team that won a silver medal at this year’s U18 world championship, scoring seven goals in seven games. He was also on the gold-medal winning team in 2017.

Wahlstrom was the leading scorer this season for the National Development Team with 48 goals and 46 assists in 62 games.


Before Wahlstrom was selected, Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin went first overall to the Buffalo Sabres, and Russian winger Andrei Svechnikov was drafted second by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Sabres taking Dahlin was expected since they won the draft lottery in April, and the 18-year-old wore a Buffalo Bills hat Friday prior to the selection. He’s the second Swedish player to be taken No. 1 and the first since Mats Sundin in 1989. Sundin went on to a Hall of Fame career.

“It’s pretty crazy actually,” Dahlin said. “He’s a legend in the hockey world. It’s kind of weird but amazing.”

The selections after Dahlin and Svechnikov brought some surprises. Montreal took Finnish center Jesperi Kotkaniemi third, and Arizona went a bit off the board with center Barrett Hayton fifth, allowing high-scoring Czech winger Filip Zadina to fall to Detroit with the sixth pick.

“I wasn’t really surprised,” said Kotkaniemi, who had been linked to the Canadiens in recent days. “I heard that they were looking for centers. So I hoped that they chose me.”

Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said before the draft that they were going to take the player they thought would be the best down the road. Holland figured Zadina can be a 30-goal scorer in the NHL.


“We’re trying to build,” Holland said. “We’re looking to acquire as much talent as we can as quickly as possible.”

Dahlin should spark the rebuilding process for Buffalo, which has missed the playoffs in each of the past seven seasons. The smooth-skating playmaker was considered the consensus first pick for more than a year.

“It’s been a long waiting,” Dahlin said. “You can’t really plan anything. Finally today I can plan my future. I love to call my new town Buffalo.”

Dahlin will jump to the NHL right away and should help the club’s league-worst offense that contributed to its last-place finish. He had six assists in seven games at the world junior championships in Buffalo and put up 20 points in 41 games in Sweden’s top pro league this season.

General Manager Jason Botterill and his staff met with Dahlin at the scouting combine in Buffalo and came away as impressed with the young Swede’s self-assessment as his on-ice talent.

“I think Mr. Dahlin could improve pretty much 31 teams in the National Hockey League,” Botterill said earlier in the day. “You watch him on the ice and you’re very impressed with his hockey sense, his speed, his puck skills but a very humble man off the ice.”

About an hour before the Sabres were on the clock, the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals made the first trade of draft weekend by sending veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche for a second-round pick. The trade netted Washington the 47th pick, but most importantly cleared significant salary-cap space to attempt to re-sign pending free agent defensemen John Carlson and Michal Kempny.

Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan has spoken with Carlson’s agent about a deal but had not agreed to one as of Friday night.

Grubauer was the first domino to fall in what could be a fascinating goaltending market. Ottawa’s Craig Anderson is reportedly available, and Columbus might have to make a decision on Sergei Bobrovsky if the two-time Vezina winner isn’t willing to talk about a contract extension with just a year left before free agency.

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