When the Detroit Red Wings acquired defenseman Jake Walman from the St. Louis Blues on March 21, 2022, they knew he was still learning the game.
He was a prospect that was developing but was yet to find his game. The Blues needed room for other players so he became available for the right price. The Red Wings stepped up and acquired him knowing he had more to offer.
Walman came to Detroit and was an unknown to many fans. This is a defenseman who is still processing the game and came to an organization in a trade that involved many pieces.
Either general manager Steve Yzerman got him in a great deal or he gave up way too much for his services. Yzerman, teammates, and fans were waiting for something from Walman to show them they got the better of the deal.
Jake Walman has been very good for the Detroit Red Wings this year
Walman was drafted 82nd overall by St. Louis in the 2014 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-1 and 218-pound defenseman was given the chance to play important minutes for Detroit but had yet to figure out the system the Detroit Red Wings played. He struggled in his first season but the best was yet to come.
Last season, Walman began to progress into a dependable defenseman that Yzerman hoped he would be.
All of a sudden, pucks were going in, the passes were crisper, and the aggressive play started to showcase itself. He was making a statement that he belonged in Detroit and his special teams play began to turn around, putting him on the ice in every situation.
This season, his third in Detroit, Walman has come alive and is on pace for career-highs across the board. He has five goals and seven assists for 12 points and is a +11 in 22 games.
In his last five games, he has one goal and four assists for five points and is a +6. He has improved every season he has been with the Detroit Red Wings, from offensive production to plus/ minus to shooting percentage, he has been the perfect partner for Moritz Seider.
His point totals have increased from his first year in Detroit (four points in 19 games) to the current day (12 points in 22 games). His plus/ minus is day and night better, as he was a -6 in his first season and is now a +11.
He has been given more flexibility on offense, given the green light to shoot whenever he feels comfortable. His shooting percentage was 0% in 2021-22 when he joined the Detroit Red Wings and is now 12.8% this season.
Seider's offensive production has dipped slightly but that is a good thing. Before he had to carry the offensive load every night, even on the power play.
Now, Walman is carrying the load offensively so Seider can continue developing his all-around game. Seider can certainly produce on the offensive end but now half of that responsibility is on Walman. They complement each other perfectly as the top pairing on Detroit's blue line.
Regardless of who the Detroit Red Wings gave up in the trade with St. Louis, the Red Wings won this trade hands down.
He has exceeded expectations and it could be argued that he is one of the best all-around defensemen in the league.
He is offensively productive, exceptional on the defensive end, and adds a physical aspect to the team. He is still young enough to be considered one of the core pieces moving forward as Detroit eyes a playoff spot and a Stanley Cup soon.