Having just signed Friend of the Blog Yan Kuznetsov to an entry-level deal, the Calgary Flames made another college move, signing Walker Duehr to a deal of his own. The 6’2, 211 pound senior was undrafted, and has put up 51 points in 101 games for Minnesota State in the WCHA. This season he had 17 points in 28 games, finishing sixth on the team in scoring. Let’s break down exactly what the Flames have in him.
Who is Walker Duehr?
The most important thing about Duehr is he is a big, strong power forward, who has progressed steadily over his time with the Minnesota State Mavericks. In an interview this week, he talked about how he tries to play a strong two-way game, and that he felt his style would match the Flames’ style well. Duehr describes himself as, “a strong power forward who can be great in both ends of the ice and can produce offensively and be responsible defensively.”
While there are not a lot of clips breaking down his defensive game, there are a lot of just how gifted he is offensively. Duehr puts the “power” in power forward, having no issues getting to the front of the net. From there, he has an incredible shot that can beat goalies cleanly. Check out this clip of him finding space in front of the net and ripping one up high.
What I love most about this clip is the way he keeps his feet moving, not allowing defenders to mark him at all. He opens up passing lanes, forces defenders out of position to cover him, then he finds his way right to the front of the net to put the puck past the goalie up high with a really good, clean shot.
While he has a really good shot, he can also pass decently, and generate chances for his teammates. Check out this nifty pass:
Clearly Duehr is a player with a lot of skill, and someone who the Flames could definitely use in their system. While he has not put up incredible numbers in his career, they do look quite decent. What is most impressive, is almost all of them came at 5v5—he scored just one goal in his college career on the power play. Here are his point totals by season (from EliteProspects.com):
What happens now?
Duehr has just signed an ELC, which kicks in next season. Once he finishes his quarantine and has his visa situation sorted out, he will hopefully get some time playing with the Stockton Heat to end the season. From there, he has two seasons to show the Flames that he projects to be an NHLer down the road.
The Heat will have a lot of competition for spots in their top six, with Connor Zary, Jakob Pelletier, and presumably Ryan Francis joining an already busy Heat lineup next season. Duehr will have his work cut out for him.
Although he is a big, right shot right winger, he probably is not the long-term solution to the Flames’ right wing woes. Per Pat Steinberg, he projects similar to a Garnet Hathaway type of player. He’s a strong two-way guy who (assuming he makes the NHL) will most likely fit in as a depth player. He had very similar college numbers to Hathaway, and both are strong power forwards, which makes this an apt comparison.
While that may be disappointing, finding a player with the potential to be an NHLer without spending a draft pick or trading anything away is great value for this team. As a team, they have been able to find some value out of undrafted players (e.g. Connor Mackey, David Rittich, and more). Hopefully, they have something similar in Duehr.