Do the Minnesota Wild have a future superstar goalie within the franchise system?
Call it being a prisoner of the moment, but Jesper Wallstedt seems to fit that bill.
The latest example came during the recently completed World Juniors tournament in Canada in which the 19-year-old stopped 125 shots over five games for the Swedish national team.
The Wild’s first-round selection in 2021 finished the tournament with a 1.62 goals against average as the Swedes captured the bronze medal, and he was selected as the top goalie in the media all-tournament team. .
The performance is not surprising.
Scott Wheeler of The Athletic had Wallstedt ranked at No. 1 in his list of top goalies under 25 years old that he posted in late July.
Wallstedt’s a big 6-foot-3 (he fills the net for his size) goalie who plays sharp lines positionally, holds those lines, and swallows the first shot so that he doesn’t have to make a ton of second saves. His movement is compact, he tracks through layers incredibly well to find pucks, and he reads opposing shooters so well that he’s rarely beat cleanly.
I’d maybe like to see him develop a little more quickness (he’s strong across the net and low-to-high on pushes, but he sits a little heavy over his skates and I wouldn’t say his feet are fast per se). But otherwise, he’s got all of the makings of a true No. 1 starter
Wallstedt will take a step toward this goal this season with the Iowa Wild.
The Vasteras, Sweden, native signed a three-year entry level contract with Minnesota in May. The move comes after he posted an 11-9-2 mark with a 1.98 GAA and a .918 save percentage awith Lulea HF in Sweden’s Elite League this season.
He led the Swedish Elite League in GAA, ranked fourth in SV% and was tied for sixth in shutouts.
Now Wallstedt, who took part in the Wild’s development camp earlier this summer, will get the opportunity with the Wild’s upcoming training camp and then in the AHL and show why the Wild why they feel he is the team’s future in net.
“It’s a great motivation just to be here,” Wallstedt said during the development camp. “Being in the practice facility and seeing the locker room and all the stuff around (the team), it’s making me even hungrier to one day get here.”
It’s likely that Minnesota Wild fans can’t wait for that day to come either.