Jesper Wallstedt isn’t just the best goaltender in the 2021 Entry Draft, he’s one of the best players. Here’s why the LA Kings should take him No. 8 overall.
The LA Kings have a unique opportunity tonight. With the 8th overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, there are many different directions Rob Blake and the rest of Kings’ management can take. Sure, there are the possibilities to grab a quality defenseman like Simon Edvinsson or Brandt Clarke; or even nab a goal-scorer like Kent Johnson or Dylan Guenther. But, if there is one player that would solidify the future of this franchise, it’s Jesper Wallstedt.
There seems to be a LOT of unknowns with this year’s selection process — probably more than ever before. Owen Power figures to go first overall to the Buffalo Sabres, though even that seems to be a question mark. With an assortment of talent sure to be quality picks like Matthew Beniers, William Eklund, or Luke Hughes, the top five is anyone’s guess at this point. But if there is one consensus the scouting world seems to agree with, it’s that Jesper Wallstedt is the best goaltender in this year’s draft. And it’s not every year a team is in the position the Kings are in to grab the best netminder,
- Age: 18
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 212 lbs
- Catches: L
A talented netminder with size and strong fundamentals. Owns exciting lateral quickness and a propensity for making the big stop – Dobber Prospects
When reading scouting reports around the league, two words sum up the native of Västerås, Sweden, size, and athletism. Playing in a pro-league like the SHL, the young goalie stood his ground against men. In his first professional season, Wallstedt put up incredible numbers — and they’re even more impressive when comparing them to Henrik Lundqvist‘s first season in the SHL.
GP GAA SV% SO
Henrik Lundqvist 20 2.71 .899 2
Jesper Wallstedt 22 2.23 .908 2
Standing at 6’3″, Wallstedt is the prototypical size you want in a franchise goaltender. While it’s easy to get blinded by his sound positioning or pure athletism, it is his poise at which he commands the crease that is truly remarkable.
Fit for the Kings
The last netminder selected in the top 10 was Carey Price, at fifth overall in 2005 to the Montreal Canadiens. So, why now for Los Angeles? In my opinion, it’s quite simple, really.
On our last Hockey Royalty Podcast episode, I compared the situation the Kings are currently in to drafting a team in fantasy football.
If you’ve ever played fantasy football, you know the draft is the most important event of the season. You pick your quarterback, a couple of running backs, a few wide receivers, a tight end or two, a defense, and a kicker. Sometimes, positions get picked higher than others, but you always try to make sure you have the best players available at each position. Right now, the Kings have drafted the best players available in all positions but net.
Another fortune the Kings possess at the moment to go along with their plethora of prospects is time.
Going into the 2021-22 season, Cal Petersen should be considered the number-one goalie for the Kings. Taking over the reins from future Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Quick. Petersen, who will turn 27 a few days into this next season, can more than carry his own until Wallstedt is ready. However, he’ll be a year older than Quickie when he won his Conn Smythe trophy during the Kings 2012 cup run.
So instead of putting all the Kings eggs in one basket with Petersen, drafting Wallstedt will give LA and goaltending coach Bill Ranford the time and ability to mold Wallstedt and have a future number-one netminder waiting in the wings for his time to shine.