12:46 pm: The Wild have made Wallstedt’s signing official. The contract will begin for the 2022-23 season.
9:33 am: With all the uncertainty around the Minnesota Wild’s goaltending situation for next season, it looks like fans could get a chance to see the team’s future in goal in North America in 2022-23. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reports Monday morning that the Wild are close to signing 2021 first-round selection Jesper Wallstedt to his three-year, entry-level contract.
Wallstedt alluded to the move himself with an Instagram post, thanking his Swedish club, Lulea HF, for the four seasons he spent there but said it was time to take the next step in his career. Lulea lost the SHL championship series to Farjestad, scoring just one goal in the final two games as Farjestad rebounded to take the series in seven games.
The 19-year-old native of Vasteras, Sweden, was widely regarded as the top goaltending prospect in the 2021 draft. Some public boards went so far as to rank him as one of the top 10 prospects available. However, a small late-season dip in his play combined with a stellar run in the WHL playoffs from the Edmonton Oil Kings’ Sebastian Cossa led to Wallstedt being the second goalie off the board at 20th overall. The pick originally belonged to the Edmonton Oilers, but the Wild made a draft-day trade to move up two spots from 22nd overall, surrendering the 90th overall pick (Luca Munzenberger) to the Oilers in return as well.
Wallstedt improved significantly on his numbers from last season this year. After a rough end to the 2020-21 season in Lulea and a subpar pair of playoff games, Wallstedt rebounded to post a 12-10-0 record, .918 save percentage, 1.98 goals-against average, and three shutouts in 22 games with Lulea this season. While the more experienced Joel Lassinantti got the starting role in the playoffs for Lulea, he played only nine more games than Wallstedt in the regular season.
That’s all to say that Wallstedt is still one of the best goalie prospects in the world, and this is significant news for the Wild organization. He’s a smooth, aggressive, and confident netminder with great vision. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to suggest that Wallstedt challenges for the backup spot in training camp in September, but how the Wild approach their second goaltender alongside Cam Talbot remains to be seen.