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Decision to trade down and pass on Jesper Wallstedt looks like a mistake by the Oilers
1 month ago
A top goaltending prospect has been called up to the National Hockey League, and he should’ve been an Oiler.
It was announced on Monday that the Minnesota Wild are calling up Jesper Wallstedt from their American Hockey League Affiliate. What does that have to do with the Oilers? Well, the Swedish netminder was selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2021 draft. That pick originally belonged to Edmonton, who traded down to get the 22nd overall pick as well as picking the 90th overall pick from Minnesota.
At the time, Wallstedt was still on the board, and he’s been fantastic since coming to North America. In 2022-23, his debut season, he had a .908 save percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average in 38 games for the Iowa Wild. He’s only improved since then, owning a .917 save percentage and a 2.54 goals-against average in 20 games before his call-up.
With the 22nd overall pick, the Oilers selected Xavier Bourgault, who ranks as one of the team’s top prospects. The skilled winger also made his debut in the American Hockey League in 2022-23, scoring 13 goals and 34 points in 62 games with the Bakersfield Condors. He’s off to a slower start in 2023-24, scoring just four goals and 11 points in 26 games so far into the season. There’s a very real possibility that Bourgault gets moved at the trade deadline in the “Stanley Cup or bust” pursuit this year.
Luca Münzenberger was selected with the 90th overall pick in 2021 and is a 6’2” left-shot defenceman who is playing with the University of Vermont. The junior scored his first collegiate goal and has an assist in 15 games so far. In 75 games, Münzenberger has that goal and 10 points. It’ll be seen if he can do anything at the pro level, but he has yet to sign an Entry Level Contract, so who knows.
This has the makings of a poor trade, as Wallstedt appears to be a goaltender of the future in Minnesota while Borugault and Munzenberger might never play for Edmonton. However, the Oilers have an interesting goaltending prospect of their own in Olivier Rodrigue. Selected with the 62nd overall pick in the 2018 draft, the 23-year-old has a .924 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against average in 12 games with the AHL Bakersfield Condors. Out of qualified netminders, his save percentage ranks third in the league and higher than Wallstedt’s, albeit in eight fewer games.
We’ll see how everything pans out, but this might wind up being one of those Draft Day Deals that Oilers fans look back on and groan at, much like in 2003 when the team traded down to select Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Jean-Francois Jacques rather than going with Zach Parise.
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