Calgary Flames

Players to watch on the Calgary Wranglers in the 2023–24 AHL season

While most eyes will be on the Calgary Flames this season due to the previous lacklustre season and storylines surrounding them, their AHL affiliate—the Calgary Wranglers—will also be interesting to watch this year. The reigning AHL regular season champs will be missing a couple of important pieces from prior seasons. Top goalie, Dustin Wolf will likely make the jump to the NHL, Matthew Phillips left the organization to join the Washington Capitals, as did two-time coach of the year, Mitch Love. Also, Jakob Pelletier won’t be around for any games as he will be a full-time Flame. With promotions and departures, the Wranglers are left with players needing to step up under new head coach Trent Cull, making many of them top players to watch this upcoming season.


Connor Zary

Connor Zary had a huge season with the Wranglers last season blossoming into a true top player for them. His 58 points in 72 games placed him second in team scoring, only trailing behind Matthew Phillips. It wouldn’t be surprising if Zary was slotted in as the full-time first-line centre. With him very likely being the top prospect on the Wranglers, the spotlight will be on him and he will have a great opportunity to light up the league and prove himself even more.

Ben Jones

Joining the organization as a free agent in 2022, Ben Jones had a really good first year with the Wranglers. In 71 games, he had amounted for 54 points, putting him third in team scoring. Him and Zary switched between the 1C role throughout the season and while that could happen again, he’ll likely be the second line centre. Jones could easily take a few steps forward this upcoming season and become a main and underrated piece for this Wranglers team.

Emilio Pettersen

The flashy, Norwegian winger, Emillio Pettersen finally took a step forward and had a solid AHL year. Pettersen put up the fifth most points on the team with 44 in 61 games. He typically served as a top-six winger and he will play there again but this time in a bigger role. The potential is there for Pettersen and the need for guys to step up could be his chance to have a great year and put his name on the radar.

Dryden Hunt

Dryden Hunt was acquired by the Flames at the trade deadline and although it was marked as a NHL trade, Hunt spent the rest of the season in the AHL. In his so far small stint with the Wranglers, he has been quite good playing in the team’s top-six. In 17 games, Hunt put up 15 points and then added another six in nine playoff games. Hunt could be the thirteenth forward for the Flames this season, but if he does play with the Wranglers, he will continue his top-six role and be the best veteran forward on the team.

Martin Pospisil

Selected in the fourth round in the 2018 draft, Martin Pospisil has played for the Wranglers/Heat for the past four seasons. He has faced many injuries stopping him from having a true strong year. This past season was the story. Pospisil only took part in 20 games and had 10 points. When he was healthy he usually filled in as a winger in top-six. Pospisil will be intriguing to watch this season as he has yet to have a year without injury, a mainly healthy year could see him finally have that big season that he’s been stopped from having multiple times.

Cole Schwindt

Acquired in the blockbuster trade from last offseason, Cole Schwindt had an okay first year with the Wranglers. In 70 games, he had 32 points, putting him eighth in team scoring. He was moved up and down the lineup throughout the year and never had a typical spot. His role this year will either be as a top-six winger or third line centre. After a year of settling in, Schwindt is poised to have a better year and be a bigger piece of the Wranglers.

Lucas Ciona

Lucas Ciona just finished what was a fairly successful junior career and is now looking towards his first AHL season. Ciona was named captain of the Seattle Thunderbirds at the start of last year. He had a great season scoring 75 points in 63 games. To top it off, he and the Thunderbirds went all the way and won the WHL. Ciona won’t be at the top of the Wranglers lineup and will serve a bottom-six role to start, but it will be interesting to see how well he fares coming from a WHL super team.

Rory Kerins

A sixth-round pick in the 2020 draft, Rory Kerins was also a player to watch coming into last season. He had come off a fantastic OHL season and many were wondering how he’d fair in a professional league. Unfortunately, Kerins didn’t make the Wranglers and played the year in the ECHL with the Rapid City Rush. To add on that, he faced injury issues as well. With the open spots, Kerins will get his AHL rookie season this year, he will fill in a bottom-six position, maybe even as third-line centre, but it will still be intriguing to see if he can bounce back.


Jeremie Poirier

Jeremie Poirier is coming off his AHL rookie season and it was great. In 69 games, Poirier had 41 points placing him sixth in team scoring and tied for 18th in rookie scoring. His role was being a top-four defenceman, typically being on the second pairing, but spending some time on the first. His defensive struggles made him receive some punishment and working on them could be great for his development. This season has the potential to be huge for Poirier, continuing to serve and perform well as one of the top defencemen, maybe even the #1, would go a long way for him and the team.

Ilya Solovyov

The Flames’ seventh-rounder from the 2020 draft, Ilya Solovyov had a very good second AHL season. Being a defence-first defenceman, his points total aren’t crazy with 18 points in 68 games. The Wranglers showed trust in Solovyov placing him as a top-four, usually top pair defenceman this past season which was completely fair considering his defensive game. Another strong season for Solovyov could make him be a more common name when it comes to conversation about the Flames’ organizational depth.


Oscar Dansk

Oscar Dansk came back to North America from the KHL and joined the Wranglers last season. He served as a backup to Dustin Wolf and had solid numbers. A .905 save percentage and 2.75 goals against average is definitely passable. With Wolf likely joining the NHL, this leaves Dansk as the starter. Dansk’s season will be critical to the Wranglers success, bad performance could drag the team down, while good performance could steal them games.

An interesting team heading into 2023–24

The Wranglers have been a top team in the AHL for the past two seasons, even being the best in the regular season this prior one. A lot of that success can be credited to guys who will no longer be with the team leaving chances for current players to step up and claim the spotlight. Forwards will definitely be the most interesting to keep tabs on as the top two in Pelletier and Phillips are gone. Defence is more or less the same narrowing it down to just a couple of guys that could possibly step up. In terms of goalies, Wolf is probably in the NHL, leaving Dansk as the starter who’s performance could be vital to the team’s season.

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