Dillon Dube has had a wild year

In many ways, the fact that Calgary Flames development camp is at the Winsport complex at Canada Olympic Park is fitting because it has allowed Dillon Dube’s year to come full circle. In just 12 short months, the trajectory of his hockey career has changed drastically.

A year ago, he was one of several under-18 hopefuls battling for a spot on Team Canada’s entry at the annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic. From that camp came a trip to Europe and a gold medal, a second season with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets and a second straight trip to the conference finals. Following the post-season, he was drafted by his hometown Flames in the second round – 56th overall, the pick the Flames got in the Kris Russell trade – and his July ends with a trip to Toronto for Hockey Canada’s World Junior development camp.

As the youngest player in Flames camp, though, he’s got his feet solidly on the ground and he’s paying attention to the older players around him. (Which would be everybody.)

“I think it’s just the work I need
to put in,” said Dube, of the main takeaway for him from the camp. “Obviously these guys are very more mature than me. I’m
still 17 years old. To see the work I need to put in to match them is
the important thing to me.”

One of the interesting quirks of this camp is it allows Dube to cross paths with some players he has seen in the past. For example, he crossed paths with Eetu Tuulola and Linus Lindstrom, but he also pointed out recognizing past Memorial Cup opponent Hunter Smith (notably by his gigantic beard). Comparing himself to somebody like Smith, who’s graduated to pro hockey since the last time he shared the ice with Dube, allows the younger player to compare himself to the more seasoned players.

The big difference probably isn’t as fancy as you’d think.

“I think it’s effort,” said Dube. “I think in
junior, you can maybe show up five days a week. Here it’s every
single day. It’s waking up early. It’s acting like a professional
every single day.”

After the whirlwind year he’s undergone, Dube is remarkably level-headed and even-keel. His selection by the Flames has given him the opportunity to play close to home and fulfill a dream by potentially suiting up in the Saddledome for the team he grew up watching, but it’s also given him a new series of challenges, beginning with World Junior camp.

For his part, Dube seems to have taken everything in stride.

“I’m pretty happy with everything
that’s happened,” said Dube. “I’ve been able to play on some pretty good teams. In
Kelowna we’ve had two great years there and overall I’m pretty lucky.”

  • McRib

    Second day of watching practices. Once again Mark Jankowski it’s safe to say is my favourite prospect in camp. Is he going to start the year off with the Flames? Time will tell and that argument has already been beaten to death today, but I am willing to guarantee he will be a very successful AHLer this year to say the least. I also think he has even more growth left in his frame, where he still should be able to add 10-15 more pounds of muscle after next off season. I am also willing to say that someday Mark Jankowski will be an impactful NHLer, I mean worse case Joe Colborne, although I think he is more naturally aggressive with more upside.

    Anyway enough about Jankowski, I also really liked Austin Carroll today. He looks much more physically mature, which has created a more powerful stride. He also looks more confident with the puck now that he knows he has an edge on players with his improved speed in one-on-one drills. He was driving the net hard all day and it really stood out. Secondly man is Matthew Phillips fun to watch. He is so creative with the puck he really reminds me of a certain number 13 in that sense. He also has real sneaky speed and is able to put defenders on their heels in the neutral zone when he is up to pace and its hard to read what direction he is headed. Lastly Brandon Hickey is going to be a shutdown defender in the NHL worse case scenario, because he is just such an exceptional skater. I hope he adds more of an offensive game at BU this year, but even if he doesn’t he is going to be an effective NHLer for a long time. He really does a masterful job of getting in between the opposition and the puck, during races for it one-on-one.

    • cberg

      McRib,
      Pretty much agree with all your assessments. Contrary to yesterday I would say both Carroll and Culkin really showed up today and were much better.

      The two guys that really stood out to me were Tyler Parsons (G) and Hickey (D). Parsons consistently made good stops with a very quick glove and positioning but really battled to keep the puck out of the net in the numerous 2-0, 3-0 rush drills. He was intense. As far as Hickey goes, got to say he’s by far the best D at camp, especially his skating and commitment to defensive coverage. Since all of the drills have focused the defensemen on actual defence, the contrast with the others is stark. Honorary mentions go to Ollas-Matsson, who has also been very strong on D, and Pollock for his shot and finish, which was really good.

      Of the invites, Burke again led the way. Hopefully he gets signed.

      Oh, final note. Gillies went off mid-session, apparently some soreness still…..