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2024 NHL DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT (VIDEO + GRADES) – Leo Sahlin Wallenius, D, Växjö Lakers, HC J20

Leo Sahlin Wallenius
2024 NHL Draft Eligible
Position: LD, Shoots L
H/W: 6’0”, 176lbs
Date of Birth: 2006-04-10
Stats to Date: GP:27 G:5 A:20 P:25

SUMMARY: Sahlin Wallenius is a fascinating defensive prospect who plays in the Växjö Lakers system, in their U20 program. He has seen two games up with the men's roster this season, however, these were games in the Champions Hockey League against weaker competition after Vaxjo had cemented a spot in the playoffs. I’m hoping that at some point in the new year, he debuts in the SHL.

Wallenius’ season can be sort of split into two parts, before the 5 Nations tournament in Hämeenlinna, Finland, and after it. Before the tournament, he wasn’t consistently getting on the score sheet for Växjö. Putting up a solid 12 points in 20 games - however, since the 5 nations he has exploded offensively in the J20 where he has had 13 points in seven games - finally showing consistent offensive output from the blueline.

Internationally Sahlin Wallenius has been very good. He has been Sweden’s #1 or #2 defender at every tournament the U-18 Swedish team has attended this year. In those games, Wallenius and teammate Alfons Freij, have been undoubtedly the two best Swedish skaters in their age group so far this season.

Wallenius is a more offensive-minded defender who shows potential to be a more than capable two-way defender one day. Wallenius is very good at activating from the blue line and dancing around the zone looking for open looks. His skating stride is very fluid in motion, and it looks as if he isn’t trying as he is bursting through transition and into the offensive zone. Defensively, he relies on his positioning and stick to defend, he is very good at defending in transition by using good gaps and a great defensive stick to thwart his opponent's speed and take away passing lanes. However, he needs to bulk up because he is very bad at defending in front of the net since he doesn’t yet have the strength to win battles against bigger players in front of the net. Once there is sustained zone pressure, Sahlin Wallenius can be a detriment to his team because of how frail he can be at times. Luckily for him, hitting the gym is one of the easier things to improve post-draft. I believe that if Sahlin Wallenius can continue to work on his play in his own zone and in front of the net, he can become a very good top-four defender in the NHL in due time.



With little pause, this is the element of Sahlin Wallenius’ game that I am most excited about. Wallenius absolutely flies when given open ice, he can gather speed quickly when carrying the puck, and when he gets up top speed, there aren’t many players that are able to keep up with Sahlin Wallenius when he is going full tilt.

Wallenius' exceptional speed becomes most evident when he transitions with the puck and seamlessly integrates as a fourth attacker during offensive rushes. His ability to penetrate the zone is notably formidable, often catching defenders off guard with his deceptive pace, forcing them into reactive pivots to counter his acceleration. Moreover, Wallenius' remarkable four-way mobility enhances his on-ice deception; he adeptly manipulates defenders by subtly positioning his feet in one direction while navigating the offensive zone. This cunning maneuver often misleads opposing defenses, as they anticipate his directional movement, only to be confounded by Wallenius' swift pivot in an alternate direction, further amplifying his offensive effectiveness.

Sahlin Wallenius is also very good with his defensive zone maneuvers. His adeptness at skating backward allows him to match the speed of swift forwards, maintaining proximity until a pivotal moment arises for him to shift direction. This skill enables Wallenius to sustain optimal defensive positioning, effectively closing gaps and utilizing his stick to deter opposing players. Additionally, Wallenius' superior skating proficiency facilitates his puck retrieval capabilities; he swiftly retrieves the puck from the corners and seamlessly transitions it out of the defensive zone. His effectiveness is twofold: whether carrying the puck into open ice to initiate a strategic outlet pass or progressing it himself, Wallenius consistently leverages his skating ability to catalyze his team's transition game and defensive stability.

In this clip, you can see Wallenius (#4) is up in transition on a 3-on-one against the Czechs. Wallenius is the puck carrier through transition, and you can see he Has more than pulled away from the lone Czech back checker on this play, using his separation speed in the process. Wallenius then does a few pump fakes to draw the Czech defender in only to slide it over to his teammate on the backdoor for the easy tap in. This play is all because Sahlin Wallenius is able to gain separation with his skating ability.

Sahlin Wallenius (#4) in this clip showcases his skating ability in transition. He retrieves the puck in the defensive end, keeps his head up, and sees both teams just went for a lime change and that the defenders weren’t in position yet - Wallenius then fluidly skates it through center ice and gets an easy zone entry because of it. Beautiful skating stride, and he makes it look effortless.

Sahlin Wallenius (#4) has great 4-way mobility, he doesn’t use it as often as i’d like but when he does he can really make the opposition work. This clip shows Wallenius playing with his food and making the defender continually have to change his foot position so he can move the puck to his teammate that is walking the blueline. Really showcases Wallenius’ ability to pivot and move.

In this clip, you can see one of Sahlin Wallenius’ (#4) teammates give the puck over in center ice and the American forward is now coming down on Wallenius with speed. Wallenius more than keeps up with him after a quick pivot and forces the American to take a bad shot on his backhand. This clip demonstrates his ability to use his skating in the defensive end by being able to keep his positioning.

I really enjoy this clip, Sahlin Wallenius (#4) is going up against a very good skater in Charlie Cerrato in a one-on-one. Cerreto has the advantage here given he has been able to gain speed through center ice and Wallenius was caught flat-footed. Wallenius is still able to keep up despite this and does a great job at keeping body positioning on Cerrato, and does just enough to keep Cerrato at bay.

This clip is rather simple, it is a zone entry by Sahlin Wallenius (#4) but see how he is able to pull 3 American defenders to him? He can make a simple drop pass and the Swedes were able to get some offensive zone time because of it. Simple play, but very effective.

I think this clip best illustrates Sahlin Wallenius’ (#27) top-end speed abilities. He is on the opposite side of the ice as his defensive partner misses the puck at the blue line and the Malmo forward is much closer to the puck. However, because Wallenius is so fast he was able to make up more ground in less time and was able to get to the puck before the Malmo forward and chop it to his teammate and out of danger.

In this final clip, Sahlin Wallenius (#27) is going against a forward who is coming into the zone with speed and momentum while Wallenius has to pivot quickly and pick up speed quickly so this forward can’t beat him to the outside. Wallenius does a great job and forces this forward around the net because he is more than able to keep up.

Grade: 60


Wallenius possesses a unique combination of attributes that contribute to the effectiveness of his shot. His shooting mechanics are fundamentally sound, characterized by a fluid motion, optimal weight transfer, and precise hand-eye coordination. This refined technique enables Sahlin Wallenius to generate significant power and velocity, making his shot difficult for goaltenders to track and stop, even from long distances or tight angles.

Furthermore, Wallenius’ shot selection and situational awareness amplify the impact of his offensive contributions. Whether he's capitalizing on open shooting lanes, exploiting defensive shifts, or creating scoring opportunities through well-timed shots, Wallenius’ ability to read the game, anticipate developments, and execute with precision enhances his scoring efficiency and offensive productivity. His hockey IQ and vision enable him to recognize opportunities, adapt to changing scenarios, and leverage his shot effectively within the flow of play.

Additionally, the versatility of Wallenius’ shot adds another layer of complexity for opposing defenses and goaltenders. Whether he's unleashing one-timers on the power play, utilizing wrist shots to navigate through traffic, or employing slap shots from the point, Sahlin Wallenius’ diverse shooting arsenal keeps opponents guessing, creating mismatches, and opening up space for his teammates. This adaptability and creativity enable Sahlin Wallenius to contribute to various offensive scenarios, maximize scoring chances, and sustain offensive pressure.

However, Wallenius does have a few things that he needs to work on in this regard. He at times takes too long to shoot and tries to be too precise at times. This isn’t going to work as well in the NHL because opponents are going to close in on him faster and he isn’t going to have as much time to get off his shots. He will have to work on getting off his shots quicker so he can transition to the quicker pace of play of professional hockey.

This is a quick and hard shot taken while Sahlin Wallenius (#4) was skating backward. One of his forwards was able to deflect the puck but this clip showcases his willingness to shoot off a pass and be accurate in the process.

This shows Sahlin Wallenius (#4) in not the greatest light. Wallenius rushes the shot after collecting the puck and the blueline and it takes some time for it to get off of his stick. Because of it the Slovak defender is able get his stick in the shooting lane to block the shot and the Slovaks end up going the other way on an odd-man rush. Wallsnius needs to be able to be quicker with his shot there and he’s lucky the Slovaks didn’t score going the other way.

Another clip that doesn’t look at Wallenius too favourably. As you can see in the clip above, Wallenius gets the shot off, yet you see how long it took him to get the shot off? Stuff like this won’t fly at higher levels, he gave the defense and the goalie time to get set and the goalie saw the puck all the way through. At higher levels he won’t have this much time and space to get his shot off, he has to be quicker so the goalie doesn’t have time to get set after going left to right.

A nice goal he scored here at the World Jr. A Challenge against the Americans. He was able to place this puck in the perfect location for the goal, but once again - Wallenius takes too long to get the puck off his stick. He won’t have that time going forward.

This clip showcases his speed and skating ability once he gains the offensive zone, his ability to hold onto the puck and make a play with it and he gets rewarded with a goal after he takes the shot from the point.

I really like this shot, he steps into it with speed after his teammate misses the net , he catches everyone on the ice off guard and there is a juicy rebound as a result.This shot showcases his willingness to utilize the slapshot.

I really like this shot here too by Sahlin Wallenis (#27), he gets the puck at the blue line, and quickly changes his shot angle, feathers a seeing-eye shot through multiple defenders and teammates, and beats the goalie clean who was being screened in front. I want to see more of this from Wallenius.

Grade: 50


At the core of his prowess lies a combination of vision, precision, and creativity that enables him to excel in distributing the puck effectively and facilitating offensive plays from the blue line. One of the most striking aspects of Sahlin Wallenius’ passing repertoire is his exceptional vision, which allows him to anticipate plays and identify open teammates with remarkable accuracy. Whether he's executing breakout passes to initiate offensive rushes or orchestrating plays from the point during power plays, Sahlin Wallenius’ ability to read the ice and make informed decisions stands out prominently.

Sahlin Wallenius’ puck-handling skills complement his passing acumen seamlessly, enabling him to navigate through traffic, evade opponents' checks, and maintain possession under pressure. He exhibits a high level of confidence and poise when controlling the puck, showcasing soft hands and quick reflexes that enable him to make split-second decisions. This combination of deft puck control and adept passing vision makes him a dual threat on the ice, capable of transitioning seamlessly between defensive responsibilities and offensive contributions.

Additionally, Sahlin Wallenius’ creativity with the puck allows him to implement a diverse range of passing techniques and strategies, adapting to different game situations and defensive alignments. His hockey IQ and situational awareness enable him to recognize and exploit defensive vulnerabilities, identifying passing lanes and executing plays that create mismatches and scoring opportunities. Whether through saucer passes to navigate over sticks, bank passes off the boards to evade pressure, or cross-ice feeds to exploit defensive shifts, Wallenius’ repertoire of passing skills reflects a comprehensive understanding of the game's nuances and intricacies.

In this clip, Sahlin Wallenius (#4) showcases his ability to use his vision and passing to get out of the zone. This is a great outlet pass that showcases Wallenius’ precision when on the breakout. Most players would hit the player that is coming across in centre ice, but Wallenius has the skill to see the player skating up the far right wall uncontested and feather a great breakout pass through two defenders.

Sahlin Wallenius (#4), in this play, it showcases his skill when jumping into the play from the blue line, he can corral the puck, maintain possession as a defender is on him, and move the puck effectively as he carries the puck in the offensive zone.

I really enjoy this clip of Wallenius (#27) he is able to fake the shot while in motion, and get the defender to bite on the shot, only for him to pick up speed when he cuts to the outside and gets in a dangerous position because of it. Unfortunately, he couldn't convert on this opportunity.

This play showcases Sahlin Wallenius (#4) in not so great of a light. He has the puck as two forecheckers are pressuring him, he is trying to reel both in as he passes to his defensive partner behind the net. He however doesn’t see the second forechecker has read this and has gotten his stick in the way. There is a bad turnover as a result.

This is just a really nice and effective outlet pass to his forward in motion. Love seeing these simple yet effective plays from defenders.

Another beautiful outlet pass through multiple defenders to his winger who has speed through the neutral zone. His forward ended up getting a goal as a result of the pass. These are plays that are difficult to execute but Sahlin Wallenius is one of the best in his class at doing them.

Sahlin Wallenius (#4) loves to handle the puck, at times he does too much with it. This play is the perfect demonstration of this. Wallenius, rather than handing it off to his forward down low and retreating back to the point, tries to bring it back and loses his handle and footing at the same time. He is responsible for the 3 on 1 odd-man rush that went the other way. Would like to see him trust his forward more here.

This is just a beautiful “Karlsson to Hoffman” esc pass by Wallenius here. Don’t think I need to explain much here, it is simply just a beautifully executed pass.

This is a really nice assist by Sahlin Wallenius (#27) who skates the puck down low, forcing the defender to commit to pursuing him behind the net. As soon as the defender moves his feet Sahlin Wallenius feathers a great pass to the front of the net to his teammate for a goal. A great showcase of his passing ability here.

Just a nice pass to the center of the ice that results in a goal. Simple play yet effective.

Skills: 55


Wallenius’ hockey IQ extends to his positional awareness and defensive instincts, where he exhibits an understanding of play development, opponent tendencies, and strategic nuances. His ability to maintain optimal positioning, anticipate opposing movements, and disrupt offensive sequences showcases a defensive acumen that complements his offensive contributions. Wallenius’ proactive approach to reading plays enables him to intercept passes, break up plays, and neutralize scoring threats effectively, reflecting a holistic understanding of defensive responsibilities within the team's system.

Wallenius is very good at decision-making under pressure, he consistently demonstrates poise, composure, and maturity beyond his years. Whether navigating high-pressure situations; or executing critical plays during pivotal moments in games, Sahlin Wallenius’ ability to remain composed and make sound decisions reflects a maturity and confidence indicative of his elite status. His calm demeanor under pressure instills confidence in his teammates, elevating the collective performance and cohesion of the entire team.

Sahlin Wallenius’ hockey IQ and vision also contribute to his adaptability and versatility on the ice, enabling him to excel in various roles and situations. His ability to adjsdt to different game scenarios, opponent strategies, and teammate dynamics reflects a flexible mindset and a willingness to evolve and improve continually. Whether adapting his play style to suit specific matchups, integrating feedback from the coaching staff, or leveraging his hockey IQ to exploit opponent vulnerabilities.

Love it when Sahlin Wallenius does this, he keeps his head up making the defense think he is going to shoot - instead, he does a no-look pass over to his partner on the blueline for a  better look.

This play shows Sahlin Wallenius puck-watching in the defensive zone, and unable to position himself correctly for the pass that goes over to the forward on the back door for a goal. Not a great look for Sahlin Wallenius.

This is a great play by Wallenius, he receives the puck at the blueline with all indications he is going to shoot, only for him to pick up the puck, move to his right, carrying the two forwards defending with him, only to give it back to the forward on the left with a slap pass for a nice goal. Really smart play here by Wallenius.

This is just a great drop pass by Wallenius. He is able to read the ice and see that that forward would have a ton of space once he threw the defender off with the pass. His teammate got an excellent scoring opportunity as a result.

Another example of Sahlin Wallenius faking the shot, getting the defense to bite - then making a no-look pass over to his teammate who has a clear look at the goalie for a quick goal.

This has to be Wallenius’ signature move, right? Faking the shot at the blueline, gets the opposition to bite on the shot and gives it over to his winger who has a clean look at the goalie. Love this from him.

Grade: 55


Sahlin Wallenius has exhibited a style of play that leans heavily on finesse, speed, and skill rather than physicality and brute force. While this approach has its merits, especially in today's NHL where speed and skill are highly valued, there are inherent challenges and scenarios where a more physical presence becomes imperative. In situations such as board battles, crease clearing, and defensive zone coverage, Wallenius’ lack of physical assertiveness becomes more pronounced, potentially compromising his ability to neutralize opponents, protect the front of the net, and maintain defensive stability.

Board battles, a fundamental aspect of the game, often require players to engage physically, using their strength, body positioning, and leverage to gain possession of the puck and maintain control along the boards. However, when observing Sahlin Wallenius’ in these scenarios, there is a discernible hesitancy or reluctance to engage in physical confrontations, resulting in lost puck battles, extended offensive possessions for opponents, and increased defensive pressure on his team. Similarly, in the defensive zone, Wallenius’ inability to clear the crease effectively, establish a physical presence in front of the net, or engage in aggressive puck battles can lead to second-chance opportunities, rebounds, and increased scoring threats against his team.

While Leo Sahlin Wallenius’ talent and skill set are undeniable, his shortcomings in terms of physical play represent a notable area for improvement and development. Addressing these deficiencies, embracing a more physical style of play, and incorporating elements of strength, aggression, and assertiveness could enhance Sahlin Wallenius’ overall effectiveness, defensive capabilities, and value as a defenseman. Through targeted training, strategic adjustments, and a commitment to rounding out his game, Sahlin Wallenius has the potential to evolve, adapt, and become a very good defenceman one day in the NHL.

This play shows how easily Sahlin Wallenius can be physically outmatched when along the boards. Even though he was able to get it over to his partner, Wallenius was still outmatched by the bigger Slovakian forward.

Sahlin Wallenius is effectively able to thwart the rush with his stick on this play, however, there is a lack of effort at chasing the puck afterward. This doesn’t happen often but I thought I’d highlight it here.

One of the very few good hits by Sahlin Wallenius. He anticipates where the puck is going to be and lines up his man. Even though it was a good hit, it wasn’t the greatest as he more cross-checked him over than using his body.

In this clip, you can see Wallenius fighting for position in front of the net and getting tossed to the ice. I really want to see him hit the weight room, so he can be more effective with his off-puck defense, particularly in front of the net.

In this clip, Sahlin Wallenius (#4) is trying to tie up the Slovak forward in front but does a terrible job. He is outmatched physically and isn’t able to tie the forward’s stick up at all, so when the shot comes the forward can have his stick in a great spot for a tip. Luckily this doesn’t happen.

Sahlin Wallenius shows here that he can be frail when battling for pucks, if he would get more weight, being able to tie this forward up would be much easier. He struggles with it and the forward is able to kick it out to his teammate.

Grade: 50

Overall Grade: 54

A note on the 20-80 scale used above. We look at five attributes (skating, shooting, puck skills, hockey IQ and physicality) for skaters and six for goalies (athleticism/quickness, compete/temperament, vision/play reading, technique/style, rebound control and puck handling). Each individual attribute is graded along the 20-80 scales, which includes half-grades. The idea is that a projection of 50 in a given attribute meant that our observer believed that the player could get to roughly NHL average at that attribute at maturity.