Home Minors Future Sabres: Anton Wahlberg

Future Sabres: Anton Wahlberg


By Warren Kozireski —

The Buffalo Savres tried to trade up for a second pick in the first round of the 2023 draft to take 6’2”, 194 lb. Swedish forward Anton Wahlberg, but it turned out that they did not need too as he fell to them in the second round 39th overall.

Other teams may kick themselves later, but now he tries to prove them wrong as he begins his North American professional career with the Rochester Americans down the home stretch of the season.

“He’s been excellent…18 years old (19 in July) and he’s barely played on NHL ice surfaces—most of his career has been on Olympic-size ice surfaces,” Rochester head coach Seth Appert said about the rookie.

“His international tournaments; both the 18’s and World Juniors were both in Europe so both Olympic-size ice…so he’s making hard plays, he’s helping us get out of our d-zone by being strong on the wall and then he’s executed well offensively.

After going without a point in his first game with the Amerks (3/30), he had points in three straight including his first goal at Providence April 6th.

“It was great; I didn’t even realize I got a point,” Wahlberg said after his first home game. “I’m a big guy; I want to be strong…in front of the goal and along the boards.

(Captain Michael) Mersch has been really good with me; he talks a lot with me. The game (here) is a little bit faster, in Sweden we have much more system (where) here we chip it in every time, play quick, so that’s been the biggest adjustment, I think. But every game I learn a lot, so it’s been very good for me.”

Wahlberg’s father, Mikael had a long hockey career in Europe and Anton represented Sweden at the recent U-20 World Juniors where he registered three points in nine games against his age group. With Malmo in the Swedish men’s league this season, he had five goals and ten points in 43 games.

At the 2023 draft in Nashville, Wahlberg was forecast as a winger at the professional level but has played and has the reach to play center. Which does he prefer?

“I don’t know. I can play both center and winger, so I’ll play wherever coach puts me and try to do my best there. I like center more; I feel a little more comfortable there, but at the same time I feel I can play wing pretty good so not the biggest deal if they put me at wing.”

The Rochester coaching staff is not waiting to throw Wahlberg into the fire to see what he can handle playing on the second power play unit in just his second game.

“Today I got a lot of playing time. They’re testing me on the power play, and it feels great. I feel like they’re giving me a good chances…so it’s been really great.

“I would say I’m a power forward…strong on the puck, little finesse here and there, but overall, just a power forward.”

Next test is the final weeks of the regular season and playoff hockey.

Early returns show the Sabres may have been very lucky Wahlberg fell to them in the second round.

(Photos provided by Rochester Americans Hockey Team)