Photo credit:Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers
Walker Duehr had a confusing AHL season with the Calgary Wranglers
7 months ago
Walker Duehr had quite a year of growth in the Calgary Flames organization. He skated in his historic first NHL game in the 2021-22 season and by the end of the 2022-23 season, he had a more regular role up with the Flames. The odd thing is, the skills he brought to the NHL didn’t seem to show themselves as obviously at the AHL level. With the Wranglers, Duehr was effective but not nearly as successful as some of his other teammates. The expected route for players making that NHL jump is some skills not translating but Duehr appears to be a rare opposite.
By the numbers
Due to his time with the Flames, Walker Duehr ended up playing about half the season with the Calgary Wranglers. He started the year on the Wranglers roster and played the first few months of the season with the AHL affiliate. He was consistently with the team from October to mid-February before making his more regular NHL jump.
In 41 games, Duehr put up 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points through his regular season with the Wranglers. Of these goals, one was a shorthanded goal and three were game-winning goals. He exceeded his previous season high in penalty minutes with 36 in 2022-23.
Based on what you saw of him at the end of the year, he wasn’t where you’d expect in the Wranglers’ lineup. Duehr was not a top liner and sometimes not even a second liner. He wasn’t playing with the likes of Jakob Pelletier, Matthew Philips, or Connor Zary but instead, would be on a heavier line down the depth chart.
In the first part of the season, he was playing with Brett Sutter and Clark Bishop before Kevin Rooney made his way down to the American Hockey League. Others like Mitch McLain and Ben Jones would filter in too but Duehr and Sutter seemed to be consistent linemates in the first half of the season. Even with his spot in the lineup, he wasn’t typically a standout player for the Wranglers and kind of disappeared among the crowd of talent at this level.
The lineup took a shuffle come playoff time as Radim Zohorna was no longer with the team and Dryden Hunt had been acquired at the trade deadline. Bringing Pelletier and Duehr back for playoffs also meant they were taking the spots of two other forwards that had been filling their positions during their call-ups.
Duehr was in the top half of the team as far as playoff performances go. While he did not score any goals in the nine post-season games, he assisted on five. This put him at sixth in team scoring through their two playoff series. He was most noticeable in the Coachella Valley series where he assisted on goals in every game but one.
He moved up the lineup a bit in the postseason and played on the second line alongside Jakob Pelletier and Cole Schwindt for the first half of the playoffs. By the last half of playoffs, he was still on the second line instead, he was joined by Connor Zary and Dryden Hunt.
Duehr was one of the first contracts to be settled once the offseason hit. He re-signed with the Flames for a two-year NHL contract on April 23rd worth $1.65 million. The expectation is for him to make a very good impression in camp and preseason to earn himself a starting spot on the opening night roster for the Flames.
However, there are quite a few possibilities that could come up and find him re-joining the Wranglers for games here and there. He is one of the fringe players that might turn his back on the AHL and earn himself the right of a full-time NHLer.
Duehr was a bit of a puzzling player to watch at the AHL level this year, however, his efforts in the NHL are in no way discounted. His track record with the organization earned him a call-up and his performance once he made it to the next level, earned him a spot to stay. I’m going to give him a split rating to best reflect his season. If I am looking just at his AHL year, I give him a B. Looking at his year as a whole, with NHL promotions considered, I would give Duehr an A-.
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