ST. Paul, min – Jesper Wallstedt is considered the goaltender of the future for the Minnesota Wild, but the 20th overall pick of the 2021 NHL Draft knows he still has a long way to go.
“We still have to work hard to reach this level,” admitted the 19-year-old goalkeeper. I’m not guaranteed a place in the NHL even though I was drafted in the first round. »
However, Wallstedt’s performance cemented his status as an elite game prospect.
He led the Swedish Hockey League with a 1.98 clean sheet average and finished fourth last season with Lulea in 22 games with Lulea with a .918 save. He also helped Sweden win the bronze medal at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships, setting a 3-1 record in five games with a 1.62 MBA and a .940 save percentage.
The Wild expect Wallstedt to play with Iowa in the American Hockey League this season so he can get used to the North American rinks.
“It’s really important that he gets used to the North American game,” said Bill Guerin, Wild’s general manager. It’s a process he must go through to earn a spot in the NHL. We want to make sure we’re doing the right things and that it’s not developing in a hurry. »
Wallstedt (6ft 3, 214lbs) offers a commanding presence at the net and he believes his style of play is a hybrid of that of former NHL stars Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur. His ability to watch his position and stop the first shot without returning is one of the main reasons the Wild hold him in such high esteem.
The Wild don’t want to rush their rise to the NHL, even if they’re their goaltender of the future.
“It can be a long process,” said Brad Bombardir, Wild’s director of player development. We must be patient with him. It will take a while. He’s still young. »
The situation in the network for the wilderness is fixed for the time being. Marc-André Fleury, who signed a two-year, $7 million deal on July 7, is expected to be the No. Philip Gustavsson will act as a reserve.
Wallstedt is aware that he can still improve certain elements of his game, including his explosiveness and lateral movements, especially when adapting to North American rinks.
“The angles are sometimes different,” he explained. You can move more while standing. In Sweden, cross passes can be much longer. Everything is a little narrower here, so you have to try to keep on your feet more often. But there are some things that we will discuss at the beginning of the season. We will find out what suits me and how I want to play in these situations. »
Wallstedt is willing to be patient and work to improve his game and eventually land a job in the NHL.
“I just have to do my job there,” he said. I hope that one day I can prove to the organization and to myself that I deserve a position of the highest caliber. »
Avid beer trailblazer. Friendly student. Tv geek. Coffee junkie. Total writer. Hipster-friendly internet practitioner. Pop culture fanatic.