Wild’s Jesper Wallstedt patiently waits for his turn in net
He will play this season for the Iowa Wild as the NHL club has no plans to rush his development
Jesper Wallstedt is undoubtedly the goaltender of the future for the Wild. Even if he doesn’t want to acknowledge it.
“I’m just trying to focus on me right now,” Wallstedt said earlier this week before going out and posting 33 saves in an exhibition win over the Dallas Stars.
The lofty expectations are understandable considering Wallstedt was the No. 20 overall pick in the 2021 draft. His massive 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame makes him an imposing force between the pipes as does his stellar skill set.
Still, the Wild have no plans to rush Wallstedt’s development. He will play this season for the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, and there’s no indication that he will sniff the NHL at any point.
Not with the legendary Marc-Andre Fleury as the unquestioned starter for the Wild this season.
Asked about Fleury’s guidance through training camp to this point, Wallstedt sang his praises.
“He has been great,” Wallstedt said. “He’s been very easy to talk to. I’ve had a lot of questions, and he’s given me some great answers to things I’ve needed to ask.”
All the while, Wallstedt has been a sponge trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
“Just keep my ears open,” Wallstedt said. “You learn a lot of things around him.”
The biggest thing Wallstedt is trying to adjust to right now is the North American rink. He’s used to playing on a bigger sheet of ice in Sweden and has already gotten beaten a few times because of the different angles.
“I think it’s going to come pretty fast,” Wallstedt said. “Just adjusting to it and being here on a daily basis or back in Iowa if I get sent down there. Just playing on the smaller ice on a daily basis is going to help me adjust faster. Then in no time it’s going to be the new normal for me. I’m looking forward to that.”
It’s only a matter of time before Wallstedt gets sent to the minors for further seasoning. Until then, he’s enjoying his time in the Twin Cities.
“It’s been great,” Wallstedt said. “All the guys here have been very nice to me and good to me. It’s been very easy to be in this group, because they’ve been very open and taken good care of us.”
It has helped that the Twin Cities has reminded Wallstedt of his native Sweden.
“It feels like home in some ways,” Wallstedt said. “That’s been very nice. All the people here are very hockey interested. You go around and be in restaurant, and I’ve been recognized a couple of times. I’m not used to that back home. That’s been very fun. It’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to trying to see more things around here.”
It’s safe to say Wallstedt will get quite familiar with the Twin Cities in the future. In the meantime, though, he’s focused on getting better each and every day.
“I know it’s going to be a long way if I expect things to happen,” Wallstedt said. “You’ve got to work for it and earn it. The opportunities are going to come. You’ve got to work for it to come. I’m just trying to stay here and now and focus on every day and kind of take it day by day and see where it leads.”
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