Coming in at the #7 spot in the 2023 Calgary Flames Prospect Rankings is newly re-signed Walker Duehr. The Flames came to terms with Duehr on his first one-way contract on April 23rd after a breakout year in the AHL and NHL.
Duehr’s development so far
Unlike some of the other players on our prospect list this offseason, virtually all Flames fans know of Duehr if they followed the team last season.
The 26 year old forward showcased his talents in 27 NHL games this past season and earned himself a new one-way contract this offseason.
Duehr was signed to a two-year entry-level contract as a UFA in 2021 after playing four years of college hockey for the Minnesota State Mavericks of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
As a UFA signing that played four years of college hockey, Duehr entered the Flames prospect pool at the older end of the spectrum, playing his first few games with the Stockton Heat at 25 years old.
Duehr’s first full season with Stockton came the following year, where he produced at 0.38 points-per-game pace. Compared to his career high in the NCAA of 0.6 points-per-game set his senior season, Duehr’s transition to professional hockey started off well.
He followed that up with the Calgary Wranglers this past season, averaging 0.63 points-per-game in his second AHL season, playing in 41 games. Duehr additionally tallied 0.4 points-per-game at the NHL level in 27 games.
It’s easy to say Duehr is developing offensively at a rate that no one necessarily saw coming. If Duehr maintains the trend we’re seeing now, we should expect a bump in his offensive production again this year, playing on the NHL team full time.
With a more offensive minded outlook this season from the Flames, I would expect Duehr to hit the 30 point plateau this season playing in a bottom-six role.
Duehr’s strengths and weaknesses
At 6’2″ and 210lbs, Duehr’s skating sets him apart at his size and is ultimately what helped the South Dakota native break the NHL roster for an extended stay this past season. Duehr has long been compared former Flame Garnet Hathaway for his unique combination of size and speed. Duehr has a smooth, long stride with a great base and ability to transition on his edges. On an older Flames team last season, Duehr was one of the best top end speed players the Flames had on their roster.
Duehr again showcased his great skating on his first career NHL goal, becoming the first South Dakota born player in the NHL to score a goal. Furthermore, his shot is strong and accurate and helped him score seven goals in 27 games.
He’s an all around power forward with hustle to his game. Duehr was one of the best players when in the lineup late last season and will look to build a consistent string of play this season under new coaches and management. Take a look at his best NHL moments from this past season.
Duehr’s next steps
Duehr needs to continue his play consistently going forward. He has time and time again proved people wrong and earned his spot on a roster. Now, he needs to do it with a new regime and stay in the lineup. After bursting onto the scene with the Flames and playing a pivotal role in the AHL Wranglers’ success last year, Duehr has thoroughly earned the two-year, one-way contract he just signed.
Duehr was one of the best players on the team at times last season and hopefully he continues to produce at the rate we saw last season. His unique combination of speed and size makes him a valuable asset in todays NHL and really fits the mould of an ideal bottom-six player. The Flames have found a gem, in my opinion, and if Duehr’s development continues on the trajectory we’ve seen since he was signed, my 30 point prediction could look like an underestimation next offseason.
It will be interesting to see how the Flames are coached this season but Duehr has showcased a strong checking game in Darryl Sutter‘s system as well as in an offensive system like Wranglers head coach Mitch Love utilizes. His 200 foot game is good but maintaining consistency in his overall play will be a test for Duehr next season. He will be on the Flames roster after training camp, but staying in the lineup and producing like we saw last season will be the next step for Duehr.
With the Flames looking to have younger, cheaper players on their roster going forward, Duehr is the perfect player to replace someone like Milan Lucic or Trevor Lewis in the bottom-six. I think it’s safe to say if we see the same level of performance as last year, Duehr will pencil himself into the Flames lineup as a full time NHLer next season.
Calgary Flames 2023 Top 10 Prospects
Honourable Mentions | #10 Arseni Sergeev | #9 Lucas Ciona | #8 Parker Bell | #7 Walker Duehr | #6 Matthew Phillips | #5 Jeremie Poirier | #4 Connor Zary | #3 Jakob Pelletier | #2 Matt Coronato | #1 Dustin Wolf