Minnesota Wild Shouldn’t Rush Wallstedt Onto the Roster

The Minnesota Wild’s season is fast approaching and while they have made some moves to improve their roster, there is one position that is under strict scrutiny; their goaltending. While they still have Marc-André Fleury, they traded away Cam Talbot and received Filip Gustavsson in return. Fleury has a great reputation but his age could start to catch up with him and Gustavsson has the opposite problem. He’s in the process of making a reputation for himself since he’s still a young goaltender that has spent most of his short career as a backup.

With the uncertainty surrounding the Wild’s current goaltenders, there’s been a lot of talk about bringing up their future number one goaltender, Jesper Wallstedt. This may seem like a great idea, but they have to be really careful about how they approach his debut and how long he stays in the lineup if that were to happen.

Wallstedt’s Plans This Season

The main plan that the Wild hope to follow for Wallstedt’s development is for him to stay in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Iowa Wild for this season. This will be the first time in his career he hasn’t played for a team based in his native country (Sweden) and he’ll need some time to adjust. As of now, there appears to be no intent to play him in the NHL, especially with already having Fleury and Gustavsson on the Wild, plus Hunter Jones and Zane McIntyre in the AHL.

Jesper Wallstedt Sweden
Jesper Wallstedt, Sweden, 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Wallstedt will more than likely have the starting spot with the Iowa Wild to get him plenty of playing time prior to his debut in the NHL. He’s still extremely young; he’ll turn 20 during this upcoming season, and rushing him at that age could be detrimental to him and the team. If he’s brought up too soon, he may struggle and that could cause issues with his confidence, something that is essential to goaltenders.

Wallstedt Needs Time to Adjust

With Wallstedt being a Swedish native, it’s going to take some time for him to fully adjust to life in North America. At any age, it would be a major change moving to a new country and adapting to a new culture, but he has the added pressure of being a goaltender in a league that is all new to him. While playing in the World Junior Championship for Team Sweden was one of the highest levels of competition for his age, the AHL and the NHL are a big step up from that.

Related: Wild’s Deadline Trades Clear Wallstedt’s NHL Path

It will take Wallstedt a little bit of time to get used to the pace and skill of the AHL and the same goes for when he makes it to the NHL. He’s a very skilled goaltender so it shouldn’t take him as long as other rookies, but the Wild can’t expect shutouts right away, especially since some goaltenders are known for hitting their stride at a later age. Goaltenders like Darcy Kuemper, Jacob Markstrom, and Jack Campbell all found their winning streaks later in their careers rather than right away during their rookie season.

Wallstedt Has a Spot Next Season

While everyone wants Wallstedt to join the NHL immediately, he needs time to continue to improve his career and take the AHL by storm first. Next season he is basically guaranteed a spot since Gustavsson is only signed for a single season and unless he has a miracle campaign, he won’t stick around past 2022-23.

Filip Gustavsson Ottawa Senators
Filip Gustavsson, former Ottawa Senators, current Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That clears Wallstedt’s path as he won’t have to worry about competing for a spot as Fleury will be his mentor and they’ll share the limelight. The goal is for Fleury to teach him the ways so that he can take over fully in the 2024-25 season after Fleury’s contract expires. So there really is no reason to rush Wallstedt unless something drastic happens like an injury or really bad goaltending from all of their netminders.

Wild Shouldn’t Rush Wallstedt

While Wallstedt is a great goaltender and has earned a stellar reputation, he needs time before he goes to the NHL. If they rush him he won’t have enough time to adjust to the level of competition and he risks a confidence drop if he gets on a losing streak. Goalies take time to peak and while he’s great now, he hasn’t faced the aggression of the NHL yet and that can mess with any player.

Regardless of when Wallstedt enters the NHL, he’ll have a warm welcome from the fans who’ve been looking forward to his debut. If he can live up to his reputation, the Wild will have one of the best scorers in the league, Kirill Kaprizov, and one of the best goaltenders in Wallstedt, which means a lot to look forward to in the future.

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