Calgary Flames hockey is already two games old, but the Calgary Wranglers are just about to take flight as they open their inaugural season at the Scotiabank Saddledome this afternoon. And while much of the attending has been on the Flames this offseason, there is a ton to get excited about with the Wranglers this season. Here’s everything that you need to know.
Last season and the move to Calgary
This is the team’s first season in Calgary, having made the move from sunny Stockton, California this summer. And while they will be wearing a new name and beautiful new jerseys, the franchise is coming off an incredible season which saw them reach the Calder Cup semifinals, losing only to the Chicago Wolves.
Calgary is the thirteenth home for the primary affiliate of the Flames, having toured across North America since 1980. This one feels like a welcome change for the organization, being able to operate both of their pro hockey teams out of the same arena and same city without needing to jet players up and back from California.
And while it may be more cumbersome to have to fly the whole team from game to game as opposed to by bus across California, the ability for the team to more closely monitory their prospects night-in and night-out is a huge advantage.
The Wranglers schedule
And the Flames’ management team will have 36 opportunities to see the Wranglers’ skaters in action at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and 36 more on the road in the 72 game schedule.
The Wranglers will be playing a hyper-optimized schedule this season, playing almost exclusively two-game sets against one opponent either at home or on the road. They start with two at home against the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL affiliates of the Seattle Kraken, then head out on the road for two against Colorado then two more on the road against Coachella Valley.
The nice thing is that unlike the topsy-turvy Canadian Division AHL season through the pandemic which saw the Stockton Heat play the first half of the season at home then the rest of the season on the road, the Wranglers get a nice mix of home and away games all season long.
The AHL’s Pacific Division
The Wranglers will continue to play in the AHL’s Pacific Division, and will play exclusively against divisional opponents this season. Here are the teams they’ll play against
|AHL Team||NHL Affiliate|
|Ontario Reign||Los Angeles Kings|
|Tucson Roadrunners||Arizona Coyotes|
|Abbotsford Canucks||Vancouver Canucks|
|San Diego Gulls||Anaheim Ducks|
|Colorado Eagles||Colorado Avalanche|
|Bakersfield Condors||Edmonton Oilers|
|San Jose Barracuda||San Jose Sharks|
|Henderson Silver Knights||Vegas Golden Knights|
|Coachella Valley Firebirds||Seattle Kraken|
The Wranglers’ opponents will be almost exclusively division opponents of the Flames as well, which should make for a number of great matchups. Couple that with excellent prospects across all of these organizations, and this should make for a really exciting season for the Wranglers.
Wranglers names to know
Up front, the Wranglers will be carried by three of Calgary’s best prospects: Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary, and Matthew Phillips. Pelletier was one of the best rookies in the league last season, putting up 62 points in 66 games. And while he did have a bit of a disappointing preseason, he will be going into this season to prove that he can be an NHLer.
Zary had a rough season last year, derailed by injury and moving to centre, but has been excellent to start the season. Expect him to be pushing his way back into the top prospect conversation this season.
Phillips has been the one of the Flames’ best prospects for some time now, seemingly unable to earn a look at the NHL level. He will be trying to show that he is better than the AHL this season, and expect that this is the season he finally sees more than one game.
The team will be captained by Brett Sutter, Darryl Sutter’s son. A former Flames draft pick from 2005, Sutter spent the last seven years with the Ontario Reign, and was the team’s captain for five of those seasons.
Phillips and Nick DeSimone will be wearing an A this season for the Wranglers. DeSimone is back for his second season with the Flames’ organization, and was one of the Heat’s best defencemen last season.
Also on the blueline, the name to watch is Jeremie Poirier. A rookie from the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, he was the last rookie cut in the Flames’ main camp, and earned every minute he saw in pre-season action. He was the best Flame in the Development Camp Scrimmage this summer, in Penticton at the Young Stars Classic, and will no doubt be looking to show he is the Flames best defensive prospect.
In net, Dustin Wolf will be looking to earn an NHL job as early as this season. He was the best goalie in the AHL last season, and he will be trying to show that it wasn’t just a fluke that he was as good as he was. Expect him to try to be even better than he was last year.
How to watch Wranglers hockey
There will be 36 games at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and it is definitely worth catching one in person if possible. If not, AHL TV will have all the games, and subscription prices are pretty reasonable.
Stay tuned to The Win Column on social media throughout the season as we will be giving away Wranglers tickets to home games all year long.
The Wranglers are very much worth watching this season. Not only is it high-quality hockey happening in the city, but the team is going to be excellent again this year. The organization has a ton of exceptional prospects, many of whom have a real shot of developing into NHLers in the coming years. Between Wolf, Pelletier, Zary, Poirier, Phillips, Yan Kuznetsov, Rory Kerins, and so many more, the future looks very bright for the Flames.