Two years ago at the All-Star Game in Atlanta, Alex Ovechkin tried to whirl around and bat the puck out of mid-air during the shootout competition. He was unsuccessful but earlier this week, Oliver Whalstrom (Swedish for Whirl-strom?) of the Portland Junior Pirate Pee-Wee Major 97s, scored a similar goal in front of a few folks at TD Garden in Boston. An impressive feat by the youngster, one that has caught the eye of many fans around the league and even a few executives.
“He could be big,” one Eastern Conference GM said to me on the condition of anonymity. “He’s only nine but he’s playing in a league for 12-year olds. There’s no telling how far he could go. If he’s doing this against 12-year olds, there are a lot of people that want to see what he can do against 15-year olds or college kids or even NHLers.”
“We know Toskala couldn’t stop that,” an anonymous coach in Southern Ontario told BMR. “Monster? Maybe.”
But there’s one NHL executive who is talking on the record and is talking big: Toronto GM Brian Burke. During a news conference earlier today Burke proclaimed that he would do “whatever is necessary” to make Whalstrom a Maple Leaf. He told the press that he has already offered a second round pick in 2012 and Colton Orr to the Portland team in exchange for Whalstrom. Portland is currently weighing its options. The prospect of Orr playing against 12-year olds is tempting to them but without NHL status the draft pick is essentially worthless unless they can deal it to another team.