Birthdate: June 23, 1997
Birthplace: Calgary, AB
Weight: 185 lbs
Drafted: 4th Round, 99th overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft
After three seasons mainly spent in the NHL with the LA Kings, Austin Wagner did not crack the opening night lineup to begin last season. His start in the AHL with the Ontario Reign was his first time down in Ontario since the 2018-19 season. Throughout the season, Wagner displayed much of the skills he showed during his time in Los Angeles, namely his excellent speed down the wing and the ability to be a dangerous player off the rush:
That speed allowed him to lead the team in scoring chances at Even Strength last season (courtesy of InStat). In primarily a bottom-six role, Wagner finished the 2021-22 season with 13 goals and 22 points in Ontario.
In spending the season in the AHL, he took on a new role as a bit of an elder statesman, bringing a much more physical edge to his game. Never one to rack up penalty minutes in the NHL (he never reached 40 minutes in penalties), Wagner amassed a team-high 107 penalty minutes in the 2021-22 campaign. He was not shy to drop the gloves in an effort to stick up for his young teammates.
Despite earning himself a three-year, $3.4 million contract at the start of the 2020-21 season, Wagner appears destined for the AHL once again. In the 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21 seasons, Wagner combined to play 171 NHL games – scoring 40 points – but the forward depth in the LA Kings organization has pushed Wagner down the pecking order quite a bit.
The veteran winger is likely to see a similar role in Ontario as he did last season – playing primarily in the bottom-six while seeing plenty of penalty-kill time. The 25-year-old is a very effective AHL player and does bring a lot to the table for a young Reign lineup.
Video via InStat