The Buffalo Sabres continued to accumulate prospects at the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville on Thursday after selecting winger Zach Benson in the first round, adding a pair of youngsters early in the second round on Day 2.
With the second-rounder acquired in the deal with Philadelphia for Rasmus Ristolainen, the Sabres selected Swedish forward Anton Wahlberg.
The new kid on the block 🔥
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) June 29, 2023
Wahlberg is 6’3″, 194 lbs., and split time between the Malmo Redhawks of the Swedish Hockey League and their junior-level club last season, as well as playing for Sweden in the Five Nations and Under-18 World Championships. He can play both center and wing and indicated that he will return to the SHL next season, where he has a year remaining on his contract before he decides on what to do in consultation with the Sabres.
The Hockey Prospect Black Book has Wahlberg rated as a C+ prospect and describes him as “a big kid who moves really well on the ice. He was always a powerful skater, but over the course of the season, we saw some improvements in his agility and edgework. Now he can burn past players with his outside speed but also cut back inside effortlessly.”
Defensive Help Added
Six picks later, Buffalo selected Slovakian defenseman Maxim Strbak. The 18-year-old played junior hockey in Finland and internationally for Slovakia before heading to North America and playing last season for Sioux City in the USHL.
Strbak is described by Elite Prospects as “a two-way defenceman with dynamic skating, who plays a highly creative game. He tries to make plays with every puck touch. A spin move here, a dangle there, and many slip passes. He’s got high compete, excels at getting the puck out, and is good in transition.”
The 6’2″198 lb. blueliner is committed to playing for Michigan State University next season.
“I talked to a lot of universities and Michigan State was really stood out to me the most. They had the most interest in me right away.” Strbak said. “It’s a very professional environment. I think that’s a place that I can reach my full potential as a college player and I’m just extremely excited that I can finally go out there and begin my college journey.”