April 12, 2021
During this job interview, it seemed like there might be an echo on the line.
Walker Duehr fancies himself a power forward. The Calgary Flames, one of the teams he'd shortlisted as a potential employer, would like a few more of those.
Flames sign power forward Walker Duehr as college free agent
"Calgary is a team that plays a similar style to the way I like to play, so it just felt like a great fit," Duehr said Sunday after signing an entry-level contract with the Flames as a college free agent.
"Having the conversation with them, it just felt right. It sounds cliché but talking with them, a lot of things were eye-to-eye. They just see my game exactly how I see it — a strong power forward who can be great in both ends of the ice and can produce offensively and be responsible defensively.
"It was really exciting, being able to end the phone call knowing that this could be a real opportunity with a team that sees me the same way that I see myself as a player. It was very exciting being able to have such a great talk about where they see me and how they see me playing."
Duehr and his Minnesota State Mavericks teammates just made school history, advancing to the NCAA's Frozen Four for the first time.
While the 23-year-old right-winger admitted there was "heartbreak" after a one-goal loss in a national semifinal, he didn't spend long sulking.
Less than three days after his final collegiate contest, and after chit-chats with a few NHL suitors, he scribbled his name on a two-year contract with the Flames. While that deal won't kick in until 2021-22, he is headed north this week and — after his mandatory quarantine — will join the AHL's Stockton Heat for an end-of-season tryout.
"It was a dream to sign an NHL contract, but the ultimate dream is to become an NHL player," Duehr said. "So the real work for me begins now, which is getting out to Calgary, getting adjusted to a pro lifestyle, a pro hockey game and being able to hopefully get my feet wet with Stockton and hopefully translating my game and learning from the guys who are already there, whether that's just sitting back and watching how they go about everyday life or picking their brains a bit on how to be a better pro.
"I'm excited to get out there and just start learning and becoming a better hockey player."
Duehr notched 10 goals and seven assists in 28 suit-ups during his senior campaign with the Mavericks. He was blanked in his first eight outings of the season and operated at close to a point-per-game clip the rest of the way.
At 6-foot-3 and 211 lb., he already has a power-forward frame. He is excited to show off his skating skills, not typically a strength for the bigger loads.
"When I think of guys in the NHL who probably their best gift as a big power forward is skating, I come to think of Josh Anderson on Montreal and Tom Wilson on Washington," Duehr said. "Those guys, I would say, I try to emulate within my playing style as being just a bigger guy who is able to use their skating ability to bring pucks to the net offensively and to be able to create separation and also just be hard on the forecheck with using their big body and their speed."
Duehr, who capped his college career with 51 points and a plus-41 rating in 102 loggings, will be reunited in the Flames organization with former Mavericks teammate Connor Mackey.
As soon as Mackey learned it was a done deal, the text messages were flying.
"This means everything to me," Duehr said after Sunday's signing. "I've dreamed of this moment ever since I started playing hockey competitively and it's just awesome to see all the hard work and dedication over the years come to fruition with an entry-level contract. I know the real work begins now, and I couldn't be more excited to be doing that with the Calgary Flames."
COURTESY: Wes Gilbertson - Regina Ledger-Post