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Dustin Wolf showed out in the pre-season with scorpion saves and cellies

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Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
6 months ago
Last week, the Calgary Flames made some big cuts to their preseason roster, including sending Dustin Wolf back to the American Hockey League. The reigning MVP has already proven himself to be worthy of a spot in the NHL with his performance last season in 55 games with the Calgary Wranglers, but due to his contract structure (they can send him down without having to put him on waivers) and the fact that the Flames have three capable NHL goaltenders, it’s hard not to understand why it happened.
Nonetheless, it was a bit perplexing in some respects to see him sent down, primarily because he is the second-best option that the Flames have for the blue paint.
Whether or not he was truly able to make an impression in the preseason could be debated (it’s not like Dan Vladar had an impressive preseason, either). But we know the kind of potential Wolf has. I mean, just look at this save in the preseason shootout. The lateral movement is fantastic, and the celebration makes everything so much better.
The one question that comes to many people’s minds at this point in Wolf’s career is, what does he have to prove to get a full-time shot? The goalie situation is currently clogged due to the presence of Vladar in the backup spot, and it’s not that he can’t be a good backup goaltender with the Flames or elsewhere, but at what point does developing Wolf at the NHL level become the priority? Finding a way to move Vladar, even if it’s only for a mid-round pick, would be ideal for plenty of reasons. And there are some who might argue that it’s not worth giving up a known commodity for the idea of Wolf being good, but there’s something to be said about the pedigree of a goaltender who has matured incredibly well in his 100+ games in the AHL.
Even though Wolf was sent down to the Wranglers, it doesn’t feel like it will be long before we see him back at the NHL level at some point. He didn’t have the most outstanding preseason ever, but he wasn’t poor enough in the eyes of many to be sent down for a long period of time. It felt more out of necessity than anything.
The 2023-24 season is underway, and, as we all know, hockey is a game of twists and turns. Wolf is going to get his shot sooner rather than later. However, I was admittedly confused to see him sent down in favor of Vladar. I understood it from a business perspective, as did many others, but the idea of going with your two best goaltenders felt like choosing Markstrom and Wolf instead of Vladar. Nonetheless, we will see what unfolds as the games go on, but one thing is for certain: the Flames still have an incredibly skilled goaltender waiting in the wings for his shot at a consistent place in the rotation.

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