Are roster reinforcements coming for the Calgary Wranglers?

Photo credit:Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
At this time last year, the Calgary Flames’ top farm team, the Calgary Wranglers, were riding high. Boasting a stacked roster, the Wranglers had a tremendous season and were getting amped up for what they hoped would be a long Calder Cup playoff run.
This year’s Wranglers look very different from last year’s, but they remain a team with playoff aspirations. After being depleted a bit by call-ups to the Flames and injuries, are reinforcements on the way for the Wranglers?

Recent additions and returns

If you watched Wranglers games in February, you may have looked at some names on their blueline and gone “Wait, who?” All due respect to the likes of Will Riedell, Sam Jardine and Patrick Kudla, they’re perfectly fine minor-league blueliners but perhaps not what you would envision as key parts of a team vying for a Calder Cup. But that trio were pressed into service due to the absences of the likes of Mark Pysyk, Jeremie Poirier, Ilya Solovyov and Brady Lyle; take four regulars out of any AHL blueline and it would probably look like the Wranglers’ did.
But good news, reinforcements have arrived for the back end. The Flames added Artem Grushnikov in the Chris Tanev swap with Dallas, and Pysyk returned from injury on Friday night while Poirier made his return on Sunday afternoon. Lyle and Solovyov remain out for awhile longer, but adding three established AHLers is a big boost for the Wranglers.

Potential junior prospects joining the Wranglers

The WHL’s Tri-City Americans are currently outside of the playoff picture, sitting nine points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It seems improbable that they can close that gap. When their regular season ends on Mar. 24, expect Parker Bell (already signed by the Flames) to join the Wranglers.
Now, junior-aged prospects Samuel Honzek (Vancouver), Jaden Lipinski (Vancouver) and Hunter Brzustewicz (Kitchener) are all likely to make their respective playoff tournaments. Whenever their teams are eliminated, they would be able to join the Wranglers. As of right now, Lipinski and Brzustewicz haven’t been signed to NHL deals yet, but they wouldn’t require them to join the Wranglers.

Potential European prospects joining the Wranglers

A year ago, we saw William Strömgren sign an entry-level deal that began in 2023-24 (this season) but he joined the Wranglers briefly for a few weeks to get a taste of North American hockey and get accustomed to the Flames and Wranglers organizations a bit.
Could we see Joni Jurmo, recently acquired from Vancouver in the Elias Lindholm trade, do the same? If so, the Wranglers could sure use the defensive depth.

Potential NHL reinforcements

We’ve discussed the many things the Flames are juggling recently, particularly in regards to the Wranglers. Connor Zary and Jakob Pelletier are waiver exempt, while Walker Duehr cleared waivers earlier this season and has time left on his 30-day exemption after clearing. Our expectation is that Pelletier or Duehr, perhaps both, will be sent down on March 8 via paper transactions to keep them eligible to play in the AHL should the Flames miss the playoffs.

College free agents (if they join on try-out deals)

Finally, if any college free agents sign NHL deals with the Flames, they would be able to join the Wranglers for the remainder of the season (and the playoffs) if they agree to a professional try-out contract, since their NHL deals wouldn’t begin until next season.
(Remember, if a college player plays in the AHL, they’re no longer eligible to play college hockey, so we wouldn’t expect to see Aydar Suniev with the Wranglers this year.)
In short: the Wranglers’ roster is a bit lean right now. But they’ve recently gotten some reinforcements, and it seems likely that further reinforcements are on the way before too long.
Get ready for the Daily Faceoff Live Trade Deadline Show, coming to you on March 8th LIVE from 11 AM to 3 PM EST!! Join Tyler Yaremchuk, Frank Seravalli and friends for 4 hours of non-stop action as they dive deep into the heart of the trade deadline. They will be breaking down every trade, discussing the impact on teams, predicting the playoff picture, and giving you the inside scoop on all the wheeling and dealing happening around the league. Tune in live on March 8th from 11 AM to 3 PM EST for the The Daily Faceoff Live Trade Deadline special you won’t want to miss!

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