Red Wings’ Jake Walman Due for Breakout Season in 2023-24

The Hockey Writers

There was one name on the Detroit Red Wings roster last season that came as a bit of a surprise: Jake Walman. When he was acquired back in the 2021-22 season, it was clear that he was a solid player who had the fundamentals of the game down. When he was with the St. Louis Blues, he had never truly gotten the chance to play many games at the NHL level or have opportunities to grow. Now that he’s had those chances, the payoff is great.

Jake Walman Detroit Red Wings
Jake Walman, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Coming off of a fresh contract extension, Walman has a big season ahead of him. He was signed to a three-year extension with a value of $10.2 million this February right before the trade deadline. There were some mutterings of him potentially being traded, but the growth that the Red Wings front office had seen in him in just a few months was enough to earn him a renewal.

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So, what comes next for Walman? Here’s a quick look back at his first full NHL season as well as a brief glimpse into his future.

2022-23 Season Recap

This past season was Walman’s first full season as a Red Wing and he did not disappoint. He was acquired in March 2022 as a part of the Nick Leddy trade along with Oskar Sundqvist and a 2023 second-round pick. This trade only felt significant in the moment since Leddy was finally freeing up roster space for players that would hopefully be more impactful on the ice, but it ended up being quite a bit more.

Related: Looking Back at the Walman/Leddy Trade 1 Year Later

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Starting off the season, Walman was bouncing back from a shoulder injury and didn’t get to play until mid-November. He ended up having a career-best season by a long shot with 63 games played and 18 total points (nine goals and nine assists). Up until the 2022-23 season, he only played a total of 76 games across three seasons – 19 of those being with Detroit in 2021-22.

“His [Walman’s] compete’s been great, he’s winning battles. He is the reason we’re getting some good exits and stops in our D-zone and the puck’s coming out. I think he has some good offensive instincts on the rush, he’s able to help us create some offense from the offensive blue line, but I will take some of those battles he’s won in our zone, and has got us out, as successful.”

– Derek Lalonde (from “How Red Wings’ Jake Walman made the most of his fresh start in Detroit” by Max Bultman, The Athletic, January 6, 2023)

As the season progressed, his impact on the ice was amplified and he ended up playing an average of 19:43 a game. He eventually wound up being partners with Moritz Seider after the realization that the Seider – Ben Chiarot pairing was just not effective in the defensive zone. This new pairing enabled both Seider and Walman to thrive and be at the top of their individual games but also a strong duo.

The moment that really made the hockey community notice him, and Red Wings fans love him, was also somewhat unexpected. After he scored the overtime game-winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game in which Detroit was trailing 4-0, he used a popular dance move, the griddy, as a celebration. Not only was the ability to do the dance move on ice impressive, but the goal itself was also a thing of beauty.

Looking Forward

In the 2023-24 season, Walman has to prove that he has what it takes to stay in the top four on the blue line. Lots of new talent was added to the defensive depth chart during free agency in the likes of Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Holl. The top three left-handed defensemen will likely be Chiarot, Gostisbehere, and Walman so there might be some light competition for who is paired with Seider.

My prediction is that the Seider-Walman pairing will remain the same to start off the season since they were very productive and successful together. Walman’s strong skating abilities coupled with Seider’s tactful physicality make them a dangerous combination for any offense to face. Their chemistry is palpable and stands out above the other defensive pairings on the roster as they were only on the ice together for 26 goals against.

“Whenever he’s up in the play I’ll stay back and whenever I’m up, he knows to stay back. I don’t know if it’s hockey IQ or what, but I know where he’s going to be, he knows where I’m going to be. I like using him on the breakouts, too. It makes my job easy when he’s out there. We work really well. I just want it to keep going.”

– Jake Walman (Bob Duff, Detroit Hockey Now)

I would like to see more of Walman offensively as he showed flashes of huge potential in the offensive zone last season. He’s capable of making big rushes out of his own zone due to his skating abilities as well as elite tenacity so he can have successful plays on both ends of the ice. He has excellent hockey IQ, stick handling, and a strong shot when the opportunity presents itself. 

Walman is an exciting up-and-coming name for the Red Wings and is truly someone to be excited about. When paired with another defenseman with offensive upside such as Seider, he is able to thrive and make a genuine impact on the roster. The Red Wings as a whole are geared up and ready to have a successful season and Walman is going to be a huge part of that success.

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