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The Calgary Wranglers were a bit of a mixed bag in March

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Photo credit:David Moll/Calgary Wranglers
Ryan Pike
20 days ago
The Calgary Wranglers had a weird month of March. On one hand, they clinched a post-season berth for the second consecutive season. On the other hand, when the Wranglers weren’t good, they were quite ungood, and they ended up with a .500 record overall (going 7-7-2).
Let’s dive into the details!

Goaltenders

The reigning AHL top goaltender and most valuable player, Dustin Wolf, made three appearances. He registered zero wins (going 0-3-0 with a 3.77 goals against average and .875 save percentage) before being summoned to the NHL on Mar. 12.
In Wolf’s absence, the Wranglers have leaned on Oscar Dansk and ECHL call-up Connor Murphy (who’s on an AHL deal). Dansk went 5-3-1 with a 2.96 GAA and .907 SV% over nine appearances, but Murphy has been a revelation, going 2-1-1 with a 2.54 GAA and .925 SV%. By the end of the month, Murphy had become the go-to guy in net.

Defencemen

Due to call-ups, injuries, performance and load management, the Wranglers dressed nine different blueliners in March, with just three guys playing in all 16 games: Jonathan Aspirot, Artem Grushnikov and Colton Poolman. Aspirot led all blueliners with nine points in March, but he’s emerged as a power play specialist to the point where the Wranglers occasionally used him as a forward for a handful of games.
The Wranglers got a bit of a boost with Jeremie Poirier’s return from a really gnarly arm laceration, Ilya Solovyov’s return from an unspecified injury, and Jordan Oesterle’s return from the NHL on trade deadline day, but the pairings and defensive set-up have been a constant churn. Brady Lyle missed the entire month with injury, and both Yan Kuznetsov and Mark Pysyk have sat as scratches from time to time.
A stat that says a lot: in March, of the seven defenders that played 10+ games, only two (Poolman and Grushnikov) had positive plus/minus ratings.

Forwards

Seven Wranglers forwards played in all of March’s games: Adam Klapka, Ben Jones, William Strömgren, Cole Schwindt, Mitch McLain, Clark Bishop and Brett Sutter. Between call-ups, trades, injuries and the team having a ton of bodies to work into their lineup, the team used 18 different forwards during the month.
Three forwards hit double-digits in points: Klapka (17), Jones (11) and Strömgren (10). Jakob Pelletier had five points after being sent back from the NHL in the middle of the month. New signing Sam Morton gave the team a similar boost, also adding five points after joining the Wranglers midway through March after his college season ended.
The big challenge for Trent Cull’s staff has seemingly been finding the perfect combination of players and lines to unlock the Wranglers’ offensive mojo. Since the season began, he’s lost the likes of Matt Coronato, Dryden Hunt, Connor Zary, Martin Pospisil and Nick DeSimone to the NHL (after gaining Coronato and Hunt pretty early on), and so I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the offensive polish of the group is a bit less than it could’ve been. They’re not untalented, but they lack swagger.
(Note: The Wranglers will be getting Wolf and Coronato back from the NHL when the Flames season ends, but nobody else.)
Adding in Pelletier and Morton mid-month gave the team a bit of higher-end depth, but they’re still working on the swagger part. This is a very cohesive forward group that works super hard, a trait that carries over from veterans like Sutter and McLain. But if they can get a little bit more out of their forwards at key moments, they could find ways to win the close games that got away from them in March.
What Wranglers players do you want to see more out of in April? Let us know in the comments!
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