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Chicago Blackhawks NHL Draft Profile: Malmö's Anton Wahlberg could be the power forward Chicago is looking for
The NHL Entry Draft will occur on June 28 and 29 in Nashville. If it seems like we’ve been looking towards this date since CHGO Blackhawks launched in March of 2022, it’s because we have! The Chicago Blackhawks won the right to draft future superstar Connor Bedard with the first overall pick. However, they currently own 10 picks in one of the deepest drafts in recent years, including six in the first two rounds. With that in mind, the CHGO Blackhawks crew will dive into some of the prospects the team is potentially targeting for some of those picks after changing the course of the franchise with the number one pick.
Today we’re looking at the large and skilled Anton Wahlberg of the SHL’s Malmö Redhawks.
Anton Wahlberg Measurables
“He has many facets to his game and competes hard. He is smart, has a good hockey sense and an understanding of the game. He has so many elements to his game that it’s hard to pinpoint just one. He’s big, explosive and strong on the puck. He can take it himself, beat his man and put it top shelf, but he can also set up his teammates. He has played some games in the SHL with great success. What stands out about him is his technical skills combined with hard work.” – Malmö J20 head coach Serhan Cicek, February 2023
“Wahlberg is 6-3 and has some rawness to his game, but he battles and wins his share of pucks. With some additional development time, the ceiling on him is immense, especially with the hand skills he possesses to go along with that imposing frame.” – Chris Peters, FloHockey
“Wahlberg’s a big kid with really good hands and above-average skating for a player his size (though he can lack coordination when he’s in a hurry). He can dance defenders and make plays in and out of traffic with uncharacteristic comfort for a bigger player. He also possesses a quick release, protects the puck well and utilizes his size effectively. The sum of those things make him interesting by default. Add in that he has a summer birthday, can play centre or the wing, and has already shown he can hang in the SHL, and there’s reason for optimism that he has NHL prospects. Questions I have about his sense and problem-solving kept him out of my second-round tier but he’s a legit prospect who likely becomes a good AHL/SHL player at minimum and may have a decent NHL career if developed properly.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
“His size, skating, and hard-nosed game intrigue, and he feels like a late-riser. He’s got the smarts and the right attitude, but is he a center or a winger in the NHL?” – The Hockey News Draft Preview
Why Anton Wahlberg Fits the Chicago Blackhawks
With the arrival of Connor Bedard and the continued development of Frank Nazar and Lukas Reichel, the Blackhawks are high in skill but lacking in size up front. Wahlberg, who projects as a second-round pick, could solve that problem.
Already 6’3″ and 192 lbs, the 17-year-old Wahlberg still has time and room to grow physically. Physical size aside, Wahlberg could be a bit of a project for the Blackhawks. He has very raw skill, but would need substantial development to become an every day NHL player. Chicago has the resources to truly invest in his development, and with Bedard, have no need to rush his NHL arrival. He is expected to play another year in Sweden, then could move to the Rockford Ice Hogs, where he could spend more time developing under the close watch of the organization.
The more I read about Wahlberg, the more I think about “Blackhawks legend” Carl Söderberg. While we like to joke about his brief stint in Chicago, the Swede had a very solid NHL career, with 297 points in 597 games. He also had the skill to fill in on the top six when injuries hit his teams over the years. If the Blackhawks select Wahlberg in the second round and he pans out to be a player like Söderberg, that’s a huge win for the Hawks. That’s the kind of depth forward that can make a huge impact in a long playoff run.
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