The NCAA Tournament, and with it the college hockey season, came to an end last night as the Massachusetts Minutemen won their first ever title. Less than 24 hours later, a Frozen Four competitor is already signing an NHL contract. The Calgary Flames have announced that they have signed forward Walker Duehr to a two-year entry-level contract, beginning in 2021-22. The 23-year-old winger just completed his senior year at Minnesota State – Mankato, who lost in the semifinals to St. Cloud State on Thursday.
The 6’3″, 211-pound winger had his best season to date this year, scoring 10 goals and 17 points in 28 games. He has potted 25 goals over his four-year college career to go along with 51 points. The natural right wing should fill a need in Calgary’s system, which is short on right-shot forwards. A prospect who thrives in front of the net and plays with an edge, Duehr could learn a thing or two from the Flames’ Milan Lucic as he progresses through the system.
While Duehr is not the only Minnesota State player receiving NHL interest, the concern with any Mavericks prospect is the transition to playing against pro competition. Mankato enjoys a relatively cushy schedule in the WCHA, so while they have been among the top teams in the NCAA over the past several years, they tend to be far less battle-tested than their top-ranked counterparts in other conferences. Statistically, the lack of top competition and the teams conservative style tend to exaggerate their defensive ability as well. This is not to say that Duehr or any other Minnesota State product is bound to struggle, but the Flames will likely give him time in the minors to adjust to a new level of competition. Duehr is unlikely to be a factor in Calgary quickly.