Detroit Red Wings Star #3: Jake Walman
For the first time in a long time, the biggest weakness for the Detroit Red Wings is not on the blue line. Moritz Seider got reinforcements in Olli Maata and Simon Edvinsson and found a new defensive partner in Jake Walman. The Seider-Chiarot experiment did not go as the coaching staff had hoped it would, but luckily for them, Walman’s emergence has propelled the play of their top defenseman and the team’s defense as a whole.
Once put onto the top pair, Walman thrived with Seider and vice versa. The scoring chances improved drastically, as well as the goals against while they remained on the ice. In fact, Walman himself had the best plus/minus on the team with a plus-10, while Seider’s former partner, Chiarot, had the worst with a minus-31. Steadying the play of Seider makes the rest of the pairings more manageable to piece together.
The two had immediate chemistry and worked well off each other from the moment they got the opportunity. It might be drastic to say, but I believe it is true that Walman stepped up in a way that has brought the defense to an average level, a far cry from where Detroit was last year.
The biggest problem with the team now is scoring, and Walman has been able to help with that as well. He plays with confidence when the puck is on his stick, and when he is not putting shots on the net, he is pushing the offense by creating space and time for the forwards.
Something that does not get enough attention is fanfare. There is something to be said about winning a fan base over and becoming a favorite player for many of them. Walman gets a bump to earn a star for the season by, from what all accounts show, earning popularity in the locker room.
The moments after scoring a goal or laying a big hit, you can see that his teammates love him, and he loves playing for the Red Wings. Losing Tyler Bertuzzi‘s heart and willingness to go to battle for anyone wearing the same sweater as him stings a little less when Jake Walman is standing in your corner, willing to do the same thing. That alone boosts his intangibles meter for what he can bring to the team and the city.
Jake Walman’s Highlight of the Year:
The 2022-23 season has been put to rest, and certainly not on the best finish with five straight losses after Thursday night’s 5-0 loss in Tampa Bay. But the Red Wings have plenty to look back on from this season, both good & bad.
The future is upon this fanbase; the Red Wings faithful just have to sit back and watch the show unfold; for now, the attention will turn to the summer and all of the work to be done this off-season.