The time has come. The Minnesota Wild's top prospect, goaltender Jesper Wallstedt, has been called up to the NHL and is projected to make his big-league debut some time in the near future.
While the 2021 first-round pick was potentially going to make his NHL debut this season, an injury to Filip Gustavsson accelerated that process. Wallstedt himself is recovering from a recent injury and that is why the team wasn't able to do this right away and the Wild had to go with a tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Zane McIntyre for the last four games.
Wallstedt is projected to be a very good starting goaltender, but it's even more clear when you just look at what he has been able to do at such a young age already. This season in the AHL, he has earned a .917 save percentage -- an improvement on last season's .908 -- and a 2.54 goals against average.
Thankfully, Wallstedt facing shots from grown men isn't anything new. This isn't some junior goaltender making the jump from the USHL to the big leagues. Obviously for the last two seasons, he's an AHL starter, but even before he was drafted by the Wild, Wallstedt was breaking records in the SHL, starting games in one of the top leagues in the world at just 17 years old.
The prodigy is now in St. Paul and we are trying to temper our expectations but it's hard.
Fleury is reportedly going to still be making the start on Monday night against the Dallas Stars, but who knows after that. Minnesota does have a back-to-back this upcoming weekend -- Friday against the Flyers, Saturday against the Coyotes -- and that seems like a logical place for Wallstedt to be in between the pipes.
- What the PWHL has gotten right so far. [Hockey Wilderness]
- Without Kirill Kaprizov, the Wild are going to need to lean on one man: Matt Boldy. [Hockey Wilderness]
- Fleury has tied childhood hero Patrick Roy with 551 NHL wins under his belt. Second all-time in the entire league's history. [The Hockey News]
Off the trail...
- How a hockey player quit the sport, and then went on to become a bull riding champion. [ESPN]
- Can the Winnipeg Jets just stop winning? They hit the top of the overall league standings and have now earned points in 12 straight games. [TSN]
- 2024 draft lottery odds: Which teams have the best chance at drafting Macklin Celebrini? [DailyFaceoff]
Think you could write a story like this? Hockey Wilderness wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.