The Wild Might Have a Goalie Problem

Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury discuss on the ice while in Minnesota Wild uniforms
Creator: Matt Blewett | Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports Copyright: Matt Blewett

The Minnesota Wild have three goalies and a big problem. This year started rough, but has leveled off as far as goalies go, but come next season, there will need to be a few big decisions. The goalie situation seemed clear at the beginning of the 2023-24 season. Marc-Andre Fleury is on an expiring contract and every indication was that he was going to retire after this season. Filip Gustavsson signed a big contract last summer to become the presumed starting goalie. And Jesper Wallstedt was supposed to play one more season in the AHL before being pulled up to work toward becoming a tandem with Gustavsson. But the goalie picture isn’t so clear anymore. Here’s what the Wild should do with each of the goalies.

Marc-Andre Fleury Isn’t Done

At the beginning of the season, Fleury didn’t want to verbally commit to retiring, but the writing was on the wall. Everyone, including him, assumed that this would be his last season. And with how terribly everyone but the rookies were playing, it seemed to be the right decision.

But in a turn of events that should have been easy to spot, Fleury has been on a heater. He is 9-2-0 in his last starts and just recorded his 75th career shutout. By just watching him play, no one would guess that he is 39 years old. He’s still as athletic and agile as he’s ever been. He plays a completely different style than most goalies today but manages to put on a show each and every time he’s in the net.

With the other goalies struggling, the Wild should re-sign Fleury to a one-year deal. They need him around to continue mentoring both Gustavsson and Wallstedt. Fleury is an amazing source of knowledge when it comes to not only playing on the ice but also how to keep healthy off of the ice. It seems like Fleury would be open to this option. At the Trade Deadline, he turned down an offer made by Bill Guerin to trade him to a team that has a real shot at the Stanley Cup. But Fleury didn’t want it. He wanted to continue to battle with the Wild and stay close to his family. Signing for one more year here in Minnesota could extend that just a little bit and keep him playing because he’s obviously not done yet.

Filip Gustavsson Still Has Potential

Last year, Gustavsson burst onto the scene putting up Vezina-level statistics. The Gus Bus had a lockdown on the net, including during the playoff series against the Dallas Stars. After a surprise trade sending unhappy Cam Talbot to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a mostly unknown Gustavsson, it was amazing to have him give legendary goalie Fleury a run for his money when it came to starting goalie each night.

But this year he, like Fleury, has faltered. He’s had really good games where he looked like he did last year, but he’s also had terrible games. The biggest problem is his consistency. It’s hard to totally blame him, though, as the entire team struggled at the beginning of the season and it took standing on his head to win a game for them. 

There have been posts here and there where fans urge the organization to trade Gustavsson away, but that is not the answer. He still has plenty of potential and he is still young. At age 25, he’s got many years of hockey ahead of him. And it wasn’t until he was traded to Minnesota that he actually played in the NHL consistently. This could also be growing pains while he adjusts to life as a goalie in a tandem.

Jesper Wallstedt Could Use Another AHL Year

Listen, everyone is excited to see Wallstedt play for the Minnesota Wild. And everyone wants to make it up to him for that awful first NHL game that he had to suffer through. But developing a goalie takes time and there is no such thing as “too much development” for them. As a reminder, Wallstedt is still only 21 years old. 

This year, the Iowa Wild have struggled enormously. With all of the injuries in Minnesota, their own team was decimated in order to fill the NHL roster. Anyone who could possibly play in the NHL was pulled up, leaving a piecemeal AHL roster of rookies and ECHL pull-ups for Wallstedt to try and play behind.

Despite that, Wallstedt was still able to attend the AHL All-Star Game for the second year in a row. And he’s been able to play a few impressive games and weekends. The best thing that the Wild could do is to keep him in the AHL for another year but pull him up more and more frequently for NHL stars. And to hand him a few easy ones before throwing him to the wolves again.

For more Minnesota Wild news and vibe checks, listen to Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast.

Trading Gustavsson Would Be the Dumbest Idea Ever Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast

 In this episode, Mikki explains why it would be best if the Minnesota Wild kept all three goalies around. She also laughs at the Kirill Kaprizov haters, talks about the prospects who've been given a chance at the end of this season, and her attempts to write a hockey romance book.Links:Her Wild Side Merch Shop!Ticketmaster Affiliate LinkSocial Media:TwitterInstagramFacebookFor more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR  
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