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Wild sign Jesper Wallstedt to rookie contract

Minnesota gets the signature of their top 2021 draft pick.

Sweden v Czech Republic: Preliminary Round Group B - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild were knocked out of the running for the Stanley Cup just last week but they’re staying in the news as the transactions are starting to roll out.

On Monday morning, the team announced that they have signed goaltender Jesper Wallstedt to his three-year, entry-level contract that will begin in the 2022-23 season.

Selected 20th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft, Wallstedt has solidified himself as one of (if not the) top prospects in the Minnesota system. The 19-year-old goaltender was slated to be the top player in his position of the draft and some outlets even had him going in the first five selections, but as the first round went on, the Wild saw an opportunity to grab their netminder of the future and traded up to select him at no. 20.

According to The Athletic’s Michael Russo and general common sense, Wallstedt will start next season with AHL Iowa and his North American professional career will blossom from there.

Since being drafted, Wallstedt has only further instilled confidence that Wild management made the right decision. In 22 appearances, Wallstedt earned a goals against average of just 1.98 and a save percentage of 9.18 — both numbers drastically improving over last year’s totals.

To have a teenager do that well in that league is monumental. There are only three ever 19-year-old goaltenders in SHL history that played as many games as Wallstedt did this season and had a higher save percentage: former veteran NHL netminder Jonas Enroth, Johan Gustafsson, and current Calgary Flames starter Jacob Markstrom. Development will still need to happen and Minnesota will need to mold his skills, but there is one hell of a long-term solution there.

The future is here, I guess.