Jesper Wallstedt is not taking prisoners in the AHL.
The Minnesota Wild’s goaltender prospect was just crowned AHL Goaltender of the Month for the month of January. Through the six starts that he made, Wallstedt allowed just seven goals on 165 shots faced, which earned him a 1.16 goals against average and a .958 save percentage. Just some unreal numbers from a guy that just turned 20 years old a few months ago.
Our very own Jesper Wallstedt is the AHL Goaltender of the Month for the month of January! Wallstedt won all six of his starts in January and allowed only seven goals on 165 shots, good for a 1.16 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage.— Iowa Wild (@IAWild) February 1, 2023
: https://t.co/2DOiLmzJq9 pic.twitter.com/Aauf7gBSIb
This is Wallstedt’s first season in North America after the Wild traded up to draft him at 20th overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Before this he was making history as an incredibly young netminder being consistently relied upon in the SHL.
It took him a little bit to get going this season — as it was expected, making the big transition across the ocean — but right now his rookie campaign is looking extremely solid. Through 22 total appearances, Wallstedt has earned a .914 save percentage, which ranks him sixth among all 19 AHL netminders that are under 23 years old. Simply put, he’s excelling in the second-best hockey league in the world at an extremely young age.
To put it in perspective, every Under-21 AHL goaltender in the last 10 years that has played in over 20 games and has a save percentage over .912 (like Wallstedt) has appeared in the NHL. Some names among that group (Andrei Vasilevskiy, Juuse Saros, John Gibson) are some of the best netminders in the league today. So, it’s safe to say that Wallstedt will get an opportunity and just by the numbers, will at least have a steady opportunity in the NHL.
Now, we’re just waiting to see when he makes that jump. Will it be when Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract is up after the 2023-24 season? Or will he take an opportunity next season? We’ll find out eventually.