Jake Walman joins the Detroit Red Wings with a heady endorsement: Steve Yzerman has had interest in him for years.
Walman, forward Oskar Sundqvist and a 2023 second-round pick were acquired at Monday’s trade deadline in the deal that sent Nick Leddy to the St. Louis Blues. The 26-year-old defenseman, 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, shoots left and has been on Yzerman’s radar going back to Walman’s days at Providence College.
“We had watched him for a while going back to his days at Providence and kind of followed him through the minors,” Yzerman said, adding he’d discussed Walman with Blues GM Doug Armstrong earlier in the season.
Walman has only appeared in 32 games this season (with three goals, three assists and a plus-3 rating) and 57 games in his career, but he’s been on a good team trying to gain a foothold.
“He was playing behind some pretty good players in St. Louis,” Yzerman said. “He’ll get some opportunity to play here. We think he has a chance to be a regular in the NHL, he just hasn’t been able to do that with a pretty good defense corps in front of him in St. Louis. He skates well, shoots the puck hard, and is competitive.”
Yzerman added left-shot defenseman Olli Juolevi earlier this month off waivers. Potentially, one or both earn jobs beyond this season.
“With the acquisition of Olli Juolevi and with Jake, we have a couple guys we get to try out and see how they do and decide where they fit for us for next year,” Yzerman said.
Jordan Oestele is the only left-shot defenseman under contract through 2022-23, though Yzerman indicated there’s interest in an extension for Marc Staal. There’s also the likelihood next season’s lineup will include Simon Edvinsson, a left-shot defenseman drafted in the first round in 2021. He has 19 points in 43 games with Frolunda in the SHL this season.
“Simon has done extremely well,” Yzemran said. “He’s a different player than Moritz Seider, but he’s had a real impact for a 19-year-old. He’s had a tremendous impact in the Swedish league.”
Walman is the second player Yzerman has taken a chance on from the Blues: In 2019, Yzerman traded for Robby Fabbri, who like Walman struggled to gain a foothold in the lineup. Fabbri has forged himself a nice career with the Wings, becoming part of the core group.
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