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Can the Chicago Blackhawks realistically draft Jesper Wallstedt?

EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 26: Goaltender Jesper Wallstedt #1 of Sweden skates against the Czech Republic during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship at Rogers Place on December 26, 2020 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 26: Goaltender Jesper Wallstedt #1 of Sweden skates against the Czech Republic during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship at Rogers Place on December 26, 2020 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks have the 11th overall selection in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and there is one player in particular that should be on their radar.

Goalie Jesper Wallstedt has a tremendous amount of upside, and is perhaps one of the best netminders available in a while. While the Blackhawks did find a pleasant surprise this year in Kevin Lankinen, there is no doubt that they could still use some help between the pipes.

Wallstedt could be the answer to their troubles. While he is still only 18 years old, the young goaltender has shown that he has the talent and physicality to be an eventual NHL starter. A native of Västerås, Sweden, Wallstedt has spent the last two seasons playing for his native country’s top hockey league, the SHL.

These two seasons have seen Wallstedt put up an SHL career save percentage of .909, while only allowing 50 goals. In addition to this stonewalling, Wallstedt has also stood out in international tournaments. While representing Team Sweden at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships, he posted a .923 save percentage.

Clearly, Wallstedt is no stranger to making impressive stops, and he also commands a physical presence on the ice. At 6’3 and 214 pounds, Wallstedt takes up a lot of net, and is great at cutting down the angles on odd-man rushes to minimize his opponents’ scoring chances.

While there is a lot of talent available on the board, the Chicago Blackhawks could certainly use a goaltender like Jesper Wallstedt on their team, and general manager Stan Bowman would be wise to snatch him up if he’s available at 11th overall. However, what are the chances of this really happening?

Wallstedt is definitely the best goalie available, and there are a number of teams that might get to him first. The Seattle Kraken, who have the number two pick, could certainly use a franchise netminder, although it’s highly unlikely they’d pass up on numerous talented skaters. However, there are still other teams picking higher that could be chomping at the bit for Wallstedt.

The Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks, who will pick sixth and seventh, respectively, could both have a use for Wallstedt. It could even be argued that the Ottawa Senators, who will pick directly before the ‘Hawks, could grab Wallstedt to play alongside Matt Murray.

With all of these different teams that could potentially throw a jersey at Wallstedt, it should be remembered that there is a ton of talent available. Plus, a goaltender being picked in the first round is a rare occurrence, although it did happen last year with Yaroslav Askarov. The Russian goalie was picked by the Nashville Predators…..at 11th overall.

Given where the draft rankings stand now, I’d argue that the Blackhawks have a pretty decent chance of getting Jesper Wallstedt. If he is still unclaimed when Stan Bowman steps up the podium, then hopefully the young Swede will hear his name called.

Related Story. Blackhawks draft targets: Carson Lambos. light

The first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft takes place on July 23. Rounds two through seven will take place on July 24.

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