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Recapping my pre-season predictions: ‘Walker Duehr plays full season in NHL and hits 40 points’

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
30 days ago
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Coming into the 2023-24 season, there were not only players looking to make a bounce back but there were a handful of names hoping to get a consistent shot at the NHL lineup with a new coaching regime coming in.
One of those players in that conversation was Walker Duehr, the power forward who played in the bottom six of the Calgary lineup for 27 games in 2022-23 under former head coach Darryl Sutter and was looking to truly break into the lineup.

Prediction: Walker Duehr plays a full season in the NHL and hits 40 points

Result: Incorrect

It was a season of ups and downs for Duehr, and after watching his success in a relatively small sample size of 27 games, which consisted of mainly effort and physicality-driven parameters. The focus wasn’t on how many points he scored (he finished the season with seven goals and four assists for 11 points), but it was more about his speed, physicality, forechecking, and defence.
Here’s Duehr’s first goal of the 2022-23 season, which was also his first career NHL goal. He showcased his speed and potential shooting talent, which he used a few times throughout the year, leading me to conclude that he might be able to find his way into a 40-point season.
And here’s his regularized adjusted plus-minus (RAPM) chart from Evolving-Hockey, which on the offensive side is once again positive and could lead many to believe he was going to thrive in a system like Ryan Huska’s.
Duehr’s efforts in 2022-23 led him to receive a new one-way contract with the Flames, giving him a chance to prove those who have confidence in him at the NHL level wrong. But it was a forgettable season for the 26-year-old Sioux Falls, South Dakota native.
Duehr only ended up playing 40 games in 2023-24 (so not close to a full season), and in those 40 games, he only ended up posting seven points. That is a 14-point pace for an entire season, so not only much lower than the prediction I made but also only three points more than he had in just over a quarter of the games in the prior year.
There were still some good moments for the fourth-line winger over the course of the year, but his inability to find his way on the scoresheet, like this assist to Nazem Kadri:
But despite those flashes of potential success, the lack of scoring and the lower number of hits ended up putting Duehr behind in the long list of players competing with him for a lineup spot like Adam Klapka, Cole Schwindt, Kevin Rooney, Jakob Pelletier and A.J. Greer after dealing with all of their injuries, and likely one or two more names. Because of that, he ended up being a healthy scratch for much of the season and was even put on waivers before being recalled after two games in the AHL with the Calgary Wranglers.
Here is Duehr’s 2023-24 RAPM chart from Evolving-Hockey. Needless to say, it’s a different feeling looking at this one, considering the larger sample size, than it is looking at his from 2022-23.
After a strong showing under Sutter, Duehr was passed up for many different players under Huska, as the new man behind the bench was trying to figure out different looks for the fourth line and, ultimately, seemed to find a few combinations that worked. Most, if not all of them, omitted Duehr from the mix. It was an unfortunate year for a winger who was looking to make his mark in the bottom six under a new coach and a player who made lots of fans believe in the hype despite 27 games still being a relatively small sample size.
Duehr still has one year left on his contract to try and get his career with the Flames back on track in some form or fashion. It will be interesting to see the kind of adjustments he makes over the off-season to try and put him atop the depth chart for the fourth line.

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