Friends, there’s a hockey game tonight that’s as close to a Calgary Flames game than we’ve seen in months. The Flames’ prospects will play the first of a pair of games against the Edmonton Oilers greenhorns in what we affectionately call the pre-pre-season.
It’s meaningless hockey, but there are some things to keep your eyes open for during the pair of games.
Can Dillon Dube lead the way?
There are four players playing in this week’s pair of prospect games who played NHL games last season. From the Oilers, there’s Cooper Marody, Kailer Yamamoto and Evan Bouchard. For the Flames, there’s Dillon Dube and that’s it.
Dube and Juuso Valimaki were the stars of last year’s prospect camp for the Flames, and both impressed enough during the month of September that they began October with the big club. Valimaki’s going to begin the season on the injured list, but Dube could find himself in the NHL with another good September.
If Dube can stand out among the JV group over this week, that’s a nice first step towards getting more NHL games next month.
How will Jakob Pelletier stack up?
Dating back to 2013, the Flames’ top draft pick has typically made the jump to the NHL pretty quickly. Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett, Matthew Tkachuk and Juuso Valimaki all made the big step pretty quickly. 26th overall pick Jakob Pelletier the Flames’ first round pick in this past NHL Draft, won’t be playing with the Flames this season. (Well, probably not.)
But Pelletier hopes to make the decision to cut him really difficult and delay his return to Moncton for as long as he can. He’s going to be full of energy, and it’ll be interesting to see how he channels all of it in his first big league camp.
How can the Flames’ depth measure up?
Our pals at the Athletic ranked the Oilers’ system 9th in the NHL and the Flames’ dead-last at 31st. It’s true that the Flames don’t have a lot of high-end talent in their system due to several of their best and brightest graduating into the NHL ranks – we’re looking at you, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Valimaki, Andrew Mangiapane and three of their last four first round picks.
But we’ve been praising the strategies the Flames’ scouting staff has used when grabbing interesting late round players. Matthew Phillips had a good first year pro. Glenn Gawdin could be a good role player down the line. Dustin Wolf has been a beast in junior. Dmitry Zavgorodniy has been superb in the Q.
The point is the Flames are in a situation where they have a lot of depth gambles; players who could be good if their development breaks a certain way. This is our first chance to see a few of them in this situation – such as Eetu Tuulola and Martin Pospisil. We’ll see how they can measure up against the Oilers’ high-end players.