Back in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft the Minnesota Wild traded up with the Edmonton Oilers to select Swede sensation Jesper Wallstedt who is a goaltender currently playing for the Lulea HF of the SHL. He was taken 20th overall. Many teams are hesitant of taking a goaltender in the 1st round because of how many ace goaltenders being busts from the past. However, Wallstedt is a different breed to me. When I take you in on insight and enlightenment you'll see how and why Walls is made to be a superstar in the NHL for years to come and the Wild lucked out more than anything because this state hardly gets anything nice. We're loving Kirill Kaprizov right now. So that's one thing. Now we have the next Swedish goaltending superstar on our hands which is another blessing. Sure, we can't exactly predict how good a prospect can be. It depends on ability, nature, and good fortunes.
Instead of me doing the regular article about a prospect I want to switch things up. So I went on and read about what makes the perfect NHL goaltender sustainable for long-term success. You want to do something different instead of doing a essay report that's been done by everyone else. So I was trying to find another way to make a Wallstedt post. Again, what makes the perfect goalie? Well when you read the post by Nicholas Goss he lists categories and goes deep into them. The categories/skills are good positioning/awareness, above-average athleticism, a strong glove hand, calm demeanor and mental toughness, patience on breakaways, puck handling ability, and rebound control. So we're doing a checklist. First I'm going to post scouting reports and see if he meets the checklist. Or his recent performances will help determine how far he is from making his NHL debut.
Positioning and awareness: +
As read from the scouting reports, and these geniuses, everyone has raved a lot about Wallstedt’s anticipation and his ability to read plays like no other. He makes himself look effortless out there and will be his team’s best defender on the ice. He’s your captain and it’s not even a joke. He’s Mr. Responsibility out there for his team. Him being able to read off of forwards and defensemen is special because goaltending wasn’t the only position he played. He did start out off as a defenseman. He chose goaltending because it runs in the family. Both his father and his brother were/are goalies. Also he couldn’t handle a lot of the physical play. He chose goaltending where he makes the most important impact. So he’s used to being held accountable in my opinion. He didn’t play forward, but it’s nice to see he played another position so he knows its tendencies. He must have the hockey IQ to break the scale. Even though he’s only 19 years old and there’s room for growth…There I ended the sentence. His read off the game is already there. It’s all about growth in the professional game, but he acts like a professional.
Above-average athleticism: +
Wallstedt’s "weakness" is his athleticism as he’s not like Andrei Vasilevskiy or Jonathan Quick, but is a very good skater in his crease and is mobile. Wallstedt doesn’t need to sprawl to make saves. The way Cam Talbot plays for us right now he makes the saves he needs to make and relies on positioning and anticipation more than his quickness and his athleticism. It’s been said he can surprise you with his athleticism because he is capable of being athletic, but he doesn’t have to all the time because he relies on smarts and predicting. Wallstedt’s ceiling surpasses Talbot’s by a wide margin. So we have a super smart goaltender who relies on positioning and of course can be a butterfly goalie when he can make a sprawling save. There’s zero concern about athleticism because that’s not his style and he even said that’s not his style to be a Marc-Andre Fleury/Vasilevskiy/Quick type of goaltender. If anything he’ll be fine.
Strong glove hand: +
Should give this a ++ instead of one plus because scouts have raved about his glove hand. He knows how to read shooters and where they want to pick their spots. He knows how to position himself again with his glove hand. It’s his on ice vision and has eyes on the back of his head because of his glove hand knowing where the puck will go. If anything him getting more professional experience will help him perfect his glove hand against NHLers. He’ll cover the net.
Calm mentality and anticipation (also resilience): +
This should also be a double plus because he excels in this category drastically. He tunes into the game and doesn’t get rattled if he allows a bad goal. Everyone has rough stretches, but it’s how you react and respond. Wallstedt always moves forward and doesn’t let his past control him. He’s cool as a cucumber in net and acts like a seasoned veteran. It’s all about actual NHL experience at this point and adjusting to smaller ice rinks.
Patience on breakaways: +
This is where he excels again. His patience and him being able to read off of the skater closing in on him. He can beat players 1-on-1. When you think you’re in trouble with the opposing team’s forward behind your defense no need to fear The Great Wallster is here!. Wall is the significance of his name.
Puck handling ability: +
Wallstedt is an active puck handler and teammate. He acts as a 6th skater on the ice and starts the breakout. He also is very vocal on the ice as he helps his defenders out. He’s a leader out there and knows how to be a secret weapon. A 2nd coach out there.
Rebound control: +
Wallstedt is a master of controlling rebounds and will make life hard for teams who loves to create rebounds and get 2nd and 3rd chances. Wallstedt swallows everything! Remember the 1990 film Tremors? He swallows the puck like the giant worms swallowing humans and vehicles. If he does give up a rebound more than likely it’ll be because of his positioning being off, but again has the above average athleticism to rely on because he can make reads.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKwPurm3ICc&t=905s (Craig Button is a fan of Wallstedt. Time stamp 12:15 - 18:31)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox_2Tku7mX8 (Wallstedt will develop more physically as he gains more experience. Already has the mental capacity to handle high level play)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ4kHa7jhNo (Wallstedt personal interview)
More fun stuff:
https://jesperwallstedt.com/ (He has his own website!! Is building his BRAND!)
What’s the outlook for the future?
I can see Wallstedt getting signed to a ELC when his SHL season is done. He’s playing for Team Sweden right now at the World Juniors including an incredible 48 save performance against Team Slovakia. He has IT. He quit school to pursue hockey full-time. He’s a generational talent before our very eyes. He’s going to get starting minutes in Iowa for Tim Army and this is where he’ll be grooming him. Wallstedt will be expected to adjust to the smaller ice rink and the pace of the AHL game. His game can translate. It’s pacing and angling. The rink will be smaller so Wallstedt will need to also rely on quickness the more he moves up. You could say this is where he can season his game more. Getting that experience instead of tearing his development down and making him be the starting goaltender for the big club next season. Too fast for development. Let him react and adjust to the AHL level first. If he excels and shows he can hang with the best then he should see callups to be a backup or be a full-time starter in 2023-2024. Who knows? The potential is untapped.
So ELC and Iowa will be his next assignment. A 92.3 save percentage with a 1.82 goals against in 17 games is incredible to think about. A Swedish Jesus is upon us!