Wild’s Jesper Wallstedt Named No. 1 Goalie Prospect on Planet

Photo: Simon Eliasson

With their 1st pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, Bill Guerin and the Minnesota Wild stepped out of the box and drafted a goalie at No. 20 overall. Young goalies are risky, thus why they’re rarely scooped up in the first round, let alone the top-20. But Jesper Wallstedt, out of Sweden, is already proving a worthy investment.

Now 19 years old, Wallstedt is set to sail across fly over the Atlantic and across half of America, to start his AHL career for the Iowa Wild for the upcoming 2022-23 season. How high are the expectations? Well, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler just ranked Jesper Wallstedt as “the best goalie prospect on the planet“.

Wallstedt’s the best goalie prospect on the planet for me. And that’s not meant as a slight to the next four names on this list, who each belong in that group or not far behind. But there’s just a control to his game that is so singular and rare in goalies his age. I’ve written about it in the past as almost robotic, and that’s truly the best descriptor for it. 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.Scott Wheeler (The Athletic)

Who is Jesper Wallstedt?

Wallstedt came up in his late teens with Sweden’s Lulea HF organization. The last two seasons, he played with their SHL (top league in Sweden) team. Each year with Lulea HF, he got better.

In 21 games with the Lulea HF’s non-SHL team in 2019-20, Jesper posted a .923 save percentage and 2.53 goals allowed per game. Up with top tier SHL Lulea HF in 2020-21, his goals against actually dropped to 2.23 per game (22 games). His save percentage was .908.

In his second and final season with Lulea HF (2021-22), Wallstedt’s goals against dropped all the way down to 1.98. His save percentage back up to .918. Wallstedt’s weaknesses? He has none, says Wheeler.

There’s a minor question mark or two around every young goalie in the sport and with Wallstedt I don’t see a single hole or area of weakness that worries me.Scott Wheeler (The Athletic)

Future in net is bright

The Minnesota Wild will roll with Marc-Andre Fleury and, newly acquired, Filip Gustavsson, in 2022. MAF is HOF and Gustavsson should be a fine backup. But it’s the future in goal that has the team, fans and experts across the league excited.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan