Over the past two seasons, Calgary Flames fans have watched as Dustin Wolf has dominated with the Stockton Heat and the Calgary Wranglers, winning two straight Goaltender of the Year awards, along with the 2022-23 AHL MVP Award. With both Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar at the NHL level, the belief is that one will be traded ahead of the trade deadline, allowing the former seventh-round draft pick to get an extended shot at the NHL level, and now, it appears as though Oscar Dansk may be forcing the team’s hand.
Wolf has been untouchable over the past two seasons, and into his third AHL season, he’s been just as good, posting a 5-1-0 record with a .924 save percentage and 2.34 GAA, but it appears he’s not the only one excelling in the AHL behind a stacked Wranglers lineup.
Oscar Dansk and his dominant start
With Wolf moving up to the NHL over the past weekend, it allowed Oscar Dansk to get an extended run in net with the Wranglers, and it’s safe to say that he’s seizing the opportunity with both hands. The 29-year old was drafted in the second-round by the Columbus Blue Jackets way back in 2012, but has made just six NHL starts over his career. However, in 2023, he looks better than ever, posting a 5-0-1 start with a 1.97 GAA and a .941 save percentage; the Wranglers have not missed a beat with him in net.
The team have been understandably patient when it comes to moving Vladar or Markstrom, as they are waiting for the best possible return in order to allow Dustin Wolf an extended run, but now Dansk’s hot start may end up forcing their hand.
What do the Flames do with all of this talent in net?
Despite his extended experience away from the NHL, it’s unlikely that Oscar Dansk will play a role in the Flames goaltending plans at the NHL level unless an injury were to occur, but he may end up forcing the team’s hand when it comes to Wolf. Sure, when Wolf is healthy and with the Wranglers, there’s no doubt he should be starting the majority of games, but with Dansk excelling in a depth role, can the team afford to continuing wasting Wolf, when his backup is clearly dominant?
It’s certainly not an easy question to answer, but the Flames know how valuable Dustin Wolf is to the organization, as he proved just how good he can be with his first start of the season in Ottawa, and now, they need to make a move. Whether it’s a team like Edmonton or Toronto looking to land Jacob Markstrom or a team like Colorado or Tampa Bay looking for a proficient backup in Dan Vladar, the team needs to make a move soon, or else they’ll be wasting some incredible talent.
Ultimately, the Flames don’t want to rush and get nothing in return, but the Markstrom/Vladar tandem isn’t the key to the future of the organization, but with Dansk’s incredible start for a Wranglers team that may end up being the best in the NHL, the time is now to move one of their top names in order to let Dustin Wolf flourish at the top level. He may not be the answer to all of the team’s issues, but Wolf’s play inspires the players in front of him, and he has constantly saved the Wranglers over the past two years, and now, with a concerted effort at looking towards the future, they need him on the roster full-time, and with Dansk giving them more depth, a move needs to be made soon.