Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Wranglers 2022-23 newcomers to watch
1 year ago
The Calgary Wranglers are set to kick off their first-ever season opener on Sunday, Oct. 16. After making the move from Stockton to Calgary, this team adopted a whole new identity to fit in with the Calgary market. While many of the former Stockton Heat team members are still a part of the core roster, there are a few new names that will quickly become regular topics of conversation this season.
Here are your 2022-23 newcomers to watch for the Calgary Wranglers:
Does that last name sound familiar? It is no coincidence. Brett Sutter is the middle child of Flames head coach Darryl Sutter and was drafted by the Flames 179th overall back in 2005 (when his father was general manager). He comes in from a seven-season tenure with the Ontario Reign and brings some veteran authority to a young team. To date, Sutter has played 60 NHL games. 18 of which, were with the Flames between 2008-11.
Sutter is also a frontrunner for the first Wranglers captain in team history. His career history and attachments to Calgary make him a strong candidate and not to mention, the last five years of wearing the C for the Reign show he’s got some locker room authority to back it up.
He won’t necessarily blow you away with his point production, coming off a year where he had 19 points in 65 games but he’s still a guy you want on your bench. He will make a nice replacement for former Heat captain Byron Froese, who was picked up by Vegas in the off-season.
Mitch McLain was a trending name in this year’s Flames training camp. For two reasons. His points and his physical game. He played in three pre-season games and earned a goal and an assist. On Sept. 30 in the preseason Battle of Alberta, McLain took on NHL regular, Darnell Nurse in a fight not once, but twice in one game. He got a couple of good licks in too.
Outside of quickly making a name for himself in his preseason play, McLain joins the organization as a seasoned AHLer. He played last season with the Milwaukee Admirals and with the Iowa Wild for three seasons prior to that. Last year he played in 76 games and earned 17 goals and six assists for a total of 23 points. He also hit a career-high in PIMs last year with 113. Something tells me there’s more of that where it came from.
Poirier has been a highly-ranked prospect for the Flames since joining the organization back in 2020. The FlamesNation writers had him coming in at eighth this year in the pre-season prospect rankings. This season will be his first professional season after finishing up with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QJMHL last year.
Poirier was selected in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft as the 72nd overall pick. He wore an A for the Sea Dogs his last two seasons and was a solid contributor in the point category. He was putting up points like he was a forward when he is actually a left-handed defenceman. Last season, he scored 16 goals and assisted on 41 for a total of 57 points in 67 games.
When you’re watching the Wranglers this season, Adam Klapka is a body that’s going to be hard to miss. Klapka joined the Flames as a free agent back in May and stands at 6’7” and 245 pounds. He came over from the Czech league where he played between two teams last year. The Bílí Tygři Liberec for 44 games and the HC Benátky nad Jizerou for 16 games on a loan. His combined points in 60 games between these teams last season were 13 goals and 17 assists for a total of 30 points.
Klapka didn’t make the scoresheet in his two pre-season games with the Flames but he is going to be an interesting player to watch for the Wranglers this year. At the very least, he’ll definitely bring up the average height of the team and hopefully make some space for his new teammates this season.
Ben Jones was an interesting off-season addition coming off two seasons with the Henderson Silver Knights and a season with the Chicago Wolves prior to that. He also cracked the FlamesNation preseason top 20 prospect list coming in at number 20.
He played his best season in the AHL last year with 25 goals and 16 assists for a total of 41 points in 66 games. He also has a bit of NHL experience on his resume. He got into two games with the Las Vegas Golden Knights last year and those are his only two NHL games to date. He’s got to be itching to make that jump again so the expectations for him in Calgary are high.
Another young gun with some NHL experience is Cole Schwindt. Schwindt is just 21 years old and has dipped his toes in some big-time hockey. He played in three games with the Florida Panthers last season and played the rest of the year with the Charlotte Checkers. 72 games to be exact.
In his season with the Checkers, he earned 19 goals and 21 assists for a total of 40 points. Pretty impressive for his first full professional season. He played in three preseason games with the Flames this year but did not earn any points. Schwindt is an OHL product with some heavy scoring recorded towards the end of his time with the Mississauga Steelheads back in the 2019-20 season.
The expectations are high for the Wranglers following the success the Heat had last year. However, they did not exactly get worse over the off-season. Not only are there the Dustin Wolfs, Jakob Pelletiers, Matthew Phillipses and Connor Zarys to watch with the Wranglers, but also some up and coming new guys that have a lot of firepower and a lot of potential.
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