The Red Wings have plenty of draft capital in the upcoming NHL draft, with 12 draft picks through six rounds (Seven of those picks are in the first three rounds). With that sort of draft capital, should the Red Wings take a swing at Jesper Wallstedt to bolster the pipeline?
An Elite Talent
There is one goaltender that stands about the rest in this upcoming draft: Jesper Wallstedt. Wallstedt is not only the best goaltender in the draft, many scouts are pegging him as the best goaltending prospect this decade. At just 18 years old, the Swedish goalie has proven his skill in one of the best pro-league outside of North America.
A vast majority of young goaltenders tend to stick to the junior leagues – not only has Wallstedt started at a pro level, he finished with a save percentage above .900. Wallstedt spent the 2020-21 season in the Swedish Hockey League, playing with Lulea HF. He started 12 games and finished with a save percentage of .908.
Wallstedt shows maturity well beyond his years, with elite technical proficiencies and natural skill creating perhaps the best goaltending prospect since Carey Price. In fact, he could very well end up being the first goaltender since Price to be selected in the top ten. With one of Detroit’s picks likely ending up within the first ten, Wallstedt could be too enticing for Steve Yzerman to ignore.
Beefs Up the Red Wings Goaltending Depth
Detroit’s goalie pipeline is in need of a boost. After his fantastic season with Quinnipiac, Keith Petruzzelli looks like the best of those prospects (Save percentage of .926). After that, however, there isn’t much. Filip Larsson, once one of the best goalies in Detroit’s system, has lost a significant amount of steam, as he’s struggled to hit .900 in Denmark’s pro league.
Wallstedt could very well be the solution to the Red Wing’s lack of goalie prospects. The problem is, to secure Wallstedt, Yzerman will likely have to pay the price of a top ten draft pick. Even for Yzerman, who is not afraid to pick goalies in the first round (With the Tampa Bay Lightning, Yzerman drafted Andrei Vasilevskiy 19th overall), that is quite high for a goalie, especially when the offense could still use elite prospects.
However, if there has ever been a goalie worth a top ten pick, it is Wallstedt. He’s already proven himself in the SHL, a league the Red Wings organization is very familiar with. He could very well be in the NHL within two years at just 20 years old, something that does not happen for goaltendeing prospects.
Detroit fans will have to wait and see what Yzerman ends up doing with his first pick in the 2021 draft – if Wallstedt even falls that far.