What does Walker Duehr need to do to get back in the Calgary Flames lineup?

Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
6 months ago
One player that all Calgary Flames fans were excited to watch this season was Walker Duehr. He became a fan favourite last season both on and off the ice. Off the ice, he is an easy person to cheer for because of his unlikely path to the NHL and underdog story. On the ice he quickly became one of the most impactful players on the Flames late last season. He was fast, physical, tenacious on the forecheck, and even put up some points.
Unfortunately, that has changed 26 games into the 2023-24 season. Duehr has only suited up for 15 games with the Flames and has been in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch.
What has happened to him? Why isn’t he the effective player we saw last season?
First off, I think we need to set realistic expectations for what kind of player Walker Duehr is going to be at the NHL level.
What we saw last season from an offensive perspective is not sustainable. In 27 games, Duehr scored seven goals and four assists. That’s a 21-goal pace. His shooting percentage was 14.9% in those games and he led the Flames in goals/60 at all strengths.
What we saw last year was an anomaly. The reason why is because Duehr has never been an offensive play driver at the junior, collegiate or professional level.
Most NHL forwards dominated in junior or college putting up around at least a point per game. For example, the only Flames forward not to hit a point per game in junior or college was A.J. Greer. That also was the case for Duehr who has never put up a lot of points.
He’s never come close to being a point per game player in the USHL, NCAA, AHL or NHL. The closest he has come to being that was in his final year in the NCAA where he put up 17 points in 28 games.
Stats courtesy of Hockey DB
He’s not a scorer. Plain and simple. He never will be a scorer at the NHL level. Everything seemed to go right for him last season. That’s not sustainable and what’s going to make him an everyday NHL player.
Duehr is a fourth line winger. When he is playing at his best he is a disruptor on the forecheck, uses his speed to wreak havoc and create scoring chances, and is a physical force.
This is a perfect example of what makes Duehr an effective player.
He chips the puck past the defenceman and back checker, uses his speed to beat both players to the puck, gets three Abbotsford Canucks players puck watching, and then makes a great play to find Jeremie Poirier in the slot. He does the little things right and it leads to some offense.
On this play Duehr picks up the puck in the neutral zone with a ton of speed and takes the puck hard to the net and creates a scoring chance and causes a little mayhem.
We haven’t seen that version of Duehr much this season. He isn’t using his speed to his advantage. He isn’t being a disruptor on the forecheck. He needs to simplify his game. He needs to excel in the little aspects of the game and have his offence just be an added bonus.
Hopefully Duehr can find a way back into the lineup as a regular. He’s an incredible story and someone the fans would love to cheer for.

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