At long last! We’re closing out the top-10 and we finally have a goaltender entering the draft board mix.
Jesper Wallstedt had, in short, a pretty stellar season. At just 18 years old, he made a full time debut with Luleå of the SHL, and was really well able to hit the ground running. His team finished 5th in the SHL on the season with a loss in the quarterfinals, and Wallstedt was a key piece in that success. It was just about an even split of the workload for the goalies, with Wallstedt playing in 22 of their 52 games, and not looking even a bit out of place in his role. It’s really hard to overstate how huge that is for a player of his age, and that leaves us with a lot to be excited about with regards to his play and potential.
BSH 2021 Community Draft Board, No. 10: Jesper Wallstedt
Team: Luleå HF (SHL)
Statistics: 2.23 GAA, .908 SV% in 22 GP
No. 1 (EU goalies) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 7 by FC Hockey
No. 4 by Dobber Prospects
No. 9 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
Wallstedt, to start with the obvious, has good size. He’s 6’3” and 214 pounds, and while that doesn’t put him in the grouping of absolutely massive goalies, that’s still a good spot to be in. So there’s that.
But what really immediately stands out about Wallstedt is his poise. He never really seems to get rattled by facing a high volume of shots, or seems to let a mistake stick with him for too long. He’s calm and collected, and responds well when he needs to, and it goes without saying that this makes him a really effective anchor for his team.
Wallstedt is, by and large, a technical goaltender, and that technique is already remarkably well developed for a goalie his age. His skating is strong, and his post to post quickness is quite good. He’s economic in his movements, squares up well and quickly to shots, and rarely overcommits to an initial save. He shows a particular strength in tracking pucks through traffic, and his glove can look lightning quick in making those saves. His rebound control is really strong as well, and he’s not afraid to just swallow shots and, well, not leave a rebound in the first place, but in general just is well able to avoid kicking any rebounds out into dangerous areas.
We should also note that he’s a very strong puck handler. Too often we see goalies come out of their net and try to play the puck and the reaction of those watching is just a collective holding of breaths, but we don’t get that feeling watching Wallstedt. Again that poise comes into play, he doesn’t get flustered when faced with pressure, but he’s also just skilled enough to not get himself in trouble when handling the puck (and even make a nice pass to start a breakout, to boot).
And, of course, it bears repeating how impressive it is that Wallstedt found the success that he did this season as an 18 year old in the SHL. There aren’t many teenagers playing in this league, and fewer teenage goalies, still, and that’s a feat in and of itself. Wallstedt certainly got a bit of a boost from playing on a good team, but the fact remains that he had an objectively strong first season, and the fact that this is just him scratching the surface is honestly a bit scary.
What’s not to like?
There really isn’t a whole lot to pick apart in Wallstedt’s game. The one piece we could point to is his athleticism—he’s gotten by just fine to this point playing a more purely technical game, but the lesser athleticism has hurt him a bit in his ability to recover after making an initial big save. It’s not something that we would call a true red flag, but it’ll be something he has to either improve or learn to work around.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The Flyers, as we know, are still waiting on a backup goalie to emerge from somewhere in the pipeline. They do have some options, though with varying levels of confidence that they’ll pan out. And that’s all to say that there’s a bit of uncertainty when it comes to the Flyers’ pipeline at goalie position, and adding a little extra reinforcement certainly doesn’t seem to be a bad idea. If the Flyers drafted Wallstedt, depending on who you ask, he would immediately step in as a close second best goalie prospect behind Samuel Ersson, if not their unequivocal best goalie prospect. And that’s a difficult thing to imagine passing up.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
There’s always the chance of some weirdness happening when it comes to goalies being drafted. We always say that you should draft the best available player and not be worried about their position, but we know that teams do not always abide by that, and for that reason we could pretty easily see a scenario where a handful of teams talk themselves out of taking a goalie in and around the top-10, and then Wallstedt could fall into the Flyers’ lap. Stranger things have happened.
That said, Wallstedt is very good, and the safer bet would be that we don’t see him fall much beyond where the earlier projections have hime going, which would have him a bit out of the Flyers’ reach. Whomp whomp.
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Carson Lambos — D, Winnipeg Ice/JYP
While Lambos doesn’t skate like Hughes, or have the dynamic qualities that Clarke and Edvinsson possess, Lambos is a strong, powerful two-way defender with plus-level skating ability, a sturdy and physical defensive game, and more skill than he gets credit for. He manages the offensive zone blue line efficiently and aggressively, regularly hitting seems or walking into space to make a play. He also defends the rush exceedingly well, and shows comfort with the puck in neutral ice. - Scott Wheeler, the Athletic
Who should be no. 11 on the 2021 BSH Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed
2021 BSH Community Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, Nove Zamky (Slovakia)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton (WHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Luke Hughes — D, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frölunda HC J20 / J20 Nationell - 21/22
- Kent Johnson — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Aatu Räty — C, Kärpät U20 and Kärpät (Liiga)
- Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå (SHL)