Steve Yzerman knows what he is doing as a general manager (GM). He built a Stanley Cup contender (and winner) in Tampa Bay and is dedicated to doing the same for the Detroit Red Wings. He knows the work (and luck) that is involved with developing players and building a team. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the present Red Wings prospect pool has a lot of solid potential NHL talent.
Simon Edvinsson has taken over the mantle of top prospect since Moritz Seider cemented himself as an NHL regular. However, there is another defensive prospect who is making waves this season. That defenceman is William Wallinder.
Incredible SHL Production
This second-round pick from the 2020 Entry Draft is having a great year. The 6-foot-4 190-pound defender has 23 points this season, which is higher than his total last season (19). That’s not the only facet he is improving in, though.
|Year||Games Played||Goals||Assists||Points||Shots||Time On Ice|
The biggest jump that Wallinder has seen is in his shot totals and time on ice (TOI). Last season he averaged 0.97 shots per game. This season it’s skyrocketed to 2.44 shots per game. He’s played for Rogle BK for both years. The coaching staff is placing more responsibility on him this season. Part of that can be seen in his increased ice time of over six minutes per game. Any defender who plays around 22 minutes a night across a whole season is a top pairing defenceman.
Seider & Edvinsson Previous SHL Development
A great measuring stick to compare Wallinder’s development to is two fellow Red Wings defenders who went through the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) before finding themselves in the NHL or American Hockey League (AHL). Here’s what Seider and Edvinsson’s last SHL seasons looked like:
At this present date (Jan. 24) Wallinder’s production is between Seider and Edvinsson. He has to play five games and record five points to match the games played and point total of Seider in his 2020-21 SHL season.
A bonus of playing in Sweden is the strong presence that the Red Wings front office has there. It helps the organization keep in touch with their overseas players and ensure they are developing the right way. Wallinder himself has seen one member of the front office, as he outlines below:
“Quite a lot, I would say. He’s (Niklas Kronwall) here in Ängelholm pretty often, working with the Red Wings prospects. He’s really helped me with a lot of small details in my game, and he’s very easy to work with.”William Wallinder (SHL Spotlight Interview)
In his role as advisor to the GM, it’s nice to see Niklas Kronwall take a hands-on approach to Wallinder’s development into a well-rounded player. A former defenceman, Kronwall has a lot of experience and knowledge he can pass down to the next generation of players.
Wallinder Is a Dynamic Offensive Player
Earlier in the season, The Hockey Writers Prospect Corner spoke about the Red Wings’ prospect pool. They went in depth about Wallinder and how he could be a potential trade chip to acquire a top talent. They also mentioned how much of an offensive threat he was at that point in the season (12 points in 16 games). He’s cooled off since then but is still a force for Rogle BK and still playing at least 22 minutes a night.
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Additionally, what allows Wallinder to be such a creative and dynamic player is his incredible skating. He has great acceleration that allows him to escape pressure with the puck. He weaves through opposing players with ease and finesse, as you can see in this clip. This has always been a hallmark of his game, even in his draft year.
Wallinder’s Fantasy Hockey Value
If you choose to play fantasy hockey, Wallinder is an interesting prospect to own in fantasy leagues. Specifically in the dynasty format, where you get to keep your entire roster from year to year. When it comes to prospects, you want to acquire teams that have a track record of developing solid NHL players. Detroit is a team that fits into this category, especially with Yzerman at the helm of the organization.
For Wallinder, his strengths mostly lie in his creativity with the puck. So most of his value will be in points. Given how close he is performing to Seider’s level you can expect around 40-45 points. Furthermore, not only is he averaging 2.4 shots per game, but he also has 20 hits across those 36 contests. That’s an average of 0.55 hits per game. That is good value for a point-producing defenceman that can give you a boost in several categories for your fantasy leagues.
The only drawback with Wallinder is that he is probably at least another year away from regularly cracking an NHL lineup. Edvinsson is presently transitioning to the NHL from the SHL by spending a year in the AHL. Seider did it backward by first playing a year in the AHL and then the SHL. Playing an extra year of hockey in one of the aforementioned leagues before entering the NHL is definitely beneficial for a young player to mature and develop.
The Red Wings are chock-full of promising prospects on the rise. Given how they developed Seider, and how Wallinder is pacing to match (or come close to) Seider’s SHL output, Wallinder can be a really special player for the Red Wings one day. All in all, I think they have found themselves a diamond in the rough.
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Caleb is the host of The Hockey Writers Fantasy Forecheck podcast. He covers the Detroit Red Wings & Prospects at THW. Additionally he is Junior Editor and Carolina Hurricanes contributor for Dobber Prospects.
Caleb started a Substack newsletter that you can find here: https://dynastyprofessor.substack.com/