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Dustin Wolf may have earned himself regular NHL time with his performance in 2022-23

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Photo credit:Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers
Paige Siewert
9 months ago
Dustin Wolf had a workload between the pipes last season unlike any other goaltender in the American Hockey League. He played 22 more games than any other goalie in the league and lead in all major goaltending categories. He was on an elite level that could not be matched and proved that his rookie year was no fluke. Dustin Wolf proved once again he is one of the best not only on his team but also in his division and in the league as a whole. 

By the numbers

Regular season

Wolf separated himself from the other netminders in the league by a mile. It had people questioning if his stats were an error. Not only was he starting more games, facing more shots and playing more minutes, but he was also performing the best. In the regular season, Dustin Wolf played 55 games and led the league in a variety of major categories. 
These categories included shutouts, GAA, save percentage and wins. Wolf’s stat line finished up with seven shutouts, 2.09 GAA, .932 save percentage and 42 wins. He was also nearly perfect outside of regulation with only two overtime losses and a perfect 1.000 save percentage in the shootouts he participated in. Wolf’s regular season record finished up at 42-10-2-7. For his exceptional efforts this year, Wolf was recognized as one of the Wranglers’ All-Star representatives at the AHL All-Star weekend. 
That was only the start of his awards through his third year in the league and his second full season. As far as team awards go, he helped Calgary capture the Pacific Division title and the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the regular season champions. He was also awarded the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award for the league’s most outstanding netminder. An award he also earned last year. Why stop there? He also earned the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award for allowing the fewest goals in the regular season. 
If you think I’m done there’s still one more major award to mention. At the end of the season, Wolf received the Les Cunningham Award, which is awarded to the AHL’s MVP. It is not often the MVP award is given to a goaltender and Wolf was only the eighth goaltender in league history to earn this award. 

Post-season

The regular Wranglers netminder played in the majority of the playoff games too. He started all nine but Oscar Dansk needed to come in for him in their first game against the Coachella Valley Firebirds. He had a decent run in the post-season but was more near the middle of the pack as far as the statistics go.
Due to the Wranglers’ first overall position in the Pacific Division, they earned a first round bye in the first best of three series. In two rounds and nine games, Wolf finished with a 2.67 GAA, a .912 save percentage and a 5-4-0-1 record.
Wolf was one of the aspects of the Wranglers’ game that came as no secret to their opponents. Between him and Matthew Phillips, their playoff opponents knew both had to be shut down if they’d have any chance of winning. The Coachella Valley Firebirds had a really good read on Wolf and it ultimately became the difference between them winning or losing the series. Despite this, Wolf battled and even played over 111 minutes in a triple overtime competition. 

Next season

Dustin Wolf is still on his entry-level contract and enters the last year of his contract in the 2023-24 season. At the end of the year, he will become a restricted free agent. While Wolf played the vast majority of the games last season for the Wranglers, next season could look a little different. Depending on what happens with Dan Vladar, there could be an opening or a competition for the backup spot for the Flames.
Oscar Dansk has already received a contract extension and is expected to be with the Wranglers for the entirety of the 2023-24 season. Dustin Wolf may very well still play some games with the Wranglers next year too but the demand seems higher than ever to let him have his shot at some more NHL time. 

Rating 

Dustin Wolf has almost done everything he can do at the AHL level. One of the only things missing from his hockey resume is a Calder Cup. His play over the last two seasons earned him some NHL time and could even earn him a more regular NHL job next season. For his performance in the 2022-23 season, he has rightfully earned an A+ rating.

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