One of the top netminders eligible for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is off to a blistering start to his debut season in the Swedish Hockey League. Halifax Mooseheads forward Bobby Orr earns Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Player of the Month honors for November and the Finnish Liiga postpones play for two weeks.
Wallstedt Impressing in Debut SHL Season
Swedish netminder Jesper Wallstedt is an early favorite to be the first goaltender drafted in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. He has a chance to join Yaroslav Askarov and Spencer Knight as a Top-15 selection which would be the third straight draft in which a goaltender is picked that high.
Wallstedt plays for Luleå HF in the SHL, and this is his first full season in the top division after playing only one SHL game in 2019-20. He spent last season playing in Sweden’s J20 SuperElit where he posted a 16-11-0 record with a 2.63 goals-against average (GAA) and a .923 save percentage (SV%).
Through seven games this season he has an impressive 5-2-0 record with a 1.66 GAA and a .933 SV%. He leads the SHL in both categories among netminders who have played at least seven games. On Tuesday, he became the youngest goaltender to register a shutout for Luleå HF in their 4-0 victory over Skellefteå. Wallstedt made 22 saves in his fifth victory of the season.
He represented Sweden in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he won a bronze medal and posted a 2.54 GAA and .936 SV% in three games played. Wallstedt will be competing for Team Sweden’s starting job at the 2021 World Junior Championship. While there is stiff competition, his play in the SHL could land him the job at the year’s most high profile international tournament.
Orr Named QMJHL Rookie of the Month
Halifax Mooseheads center Robert Orr, who goes by Bobby Orr, was named QMJHL Rookie of the Month for November. Orr recorded at least a point in all five of the Mooseheads’ games last month with three goals and four assists including two multi-point games to begin the month. Orr was acquired by the Mooseheads in June from the Saint John Sea Dogs and he is tied for the lead in roookie scoring with teammate Markus Vidicek and Moncton Wildcats forward Vincent Labelle who all have 13 points on the season.
With the QMJHL season now paused until Jan. 3, Orr will stay atop the rookie scoring charts until play resumes. He is a first-time eligible prospect for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and should hear his name called relatively high on draft day if he can keep this up. Orr was drafted 74th overall by the Sea Dogs in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft, so it’s impressive how far he’s come in such a short time.
Finnish Liiga Postponed for Two Weeks
Wednesday morning the Finnish Liiga announced that games will be postponed from Dec. 3 to Dec. 19 due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. With stricter guidelines enforced by regional authorities, league officials decided it would be better to postpone play for two weeks and reassess their position at that time. Liiga chairman of the board, Heikki Hiltunen had this to say in a press release:
We have done a lot of work during the autumn to ensure the safety of the public, players and employees at match events, and we did well in that work. Now, however, the viral situation has changed for the worse in several areas, so the limitations are understandable. However, it is not financially possible for us to play without the audience. We believe that the disease situation will be brought under control quickly with these measures and we will be able to continue the regular series. The intention is to continue to play the full regular season.
Several NHL prospects currently playing in Finland will be affected by the postponement including top prospects in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft like Aatu Raty and the top prospect in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Brad Lambert.