Prospect wrap-up: Dillon Dube

When Dillon Dube was drafted, I was a bit confused. At the time, the Flames had pretty good prospect depth at centre and pretty good depth on the left side. Then they went and drafted a left-handed centre (immediately after drafting a goalie in the second round, which was also very unexpected).

Upon first glance, I wasn’t really impressed with the Kelowna Rocket, who just barely scored over a point-per-game. After doing some reading, I liked him a bit more. After doing some watching, I liked him a lot. He has the potential to become a very useful mid/top six centre or winger in the immediate future.

A brief history

The best way to describe Dube’s career to this point is nomadic. Born in Golden, B.C., he moved out to the vaunted Notre Dame High School of Wilcox, Saskatchewan. A standout player finishing second on his team in goals and points per game, he was selected with the 21st overall pick of the WHL Bantam Draft by the Kelowna Rockets. In his first season with the Rockets, he put up respectable numbers on the road to the Memorial Cup. Injuries forced him to be a major contributor in his draft year, where he put up 66 points in 65 games for Kelowna.

The 5’11” forward has also seen a fair share of international playing time, too. He was a key member of Canada’s gold-winning Ivan Hlinka tournament team, finishing in a tie for third in scoring. This past year, Dube was someone Hockey Canada really kept an eye on. He was named to the CHL-Russia series team, not playing due to injury, and made Canada’s World Juniors squad as a dark horse candidate, beating out big names such as teammate Nick Merkley and Sam Steel.

2016-17 performance

GP-G-A-P Primary Points 5v5 P1 NHLe
40-20-35-55 30 18 30.44

Dube had a roller coaster year, bouncing between scoring droughts and scoring bursts. But when he was on, he was on. I feel that getting into the groove of things after his knee injury and WJC trip probably helped, as his scoring normalized down the stretch.

Here’s where the rolling average (adjusted for absent periods) comes in handy. Despite Dube’s sporadic scoring, we can observe that he was, on average, always improving. You can also see positives in the fact there was really only one period where he was worse than last year by NHLe standards. Otherwise, he was better than 2015-16, and getting better with every passing week.

Commenter McRib pointed out the success Dube in his D+1 as compared to other recent Flames WHL prospects, but let’s add a caveat to that: age. Dube is among the younger, and more succesful, Flames prospects at that age.

Player Age (Oct 1) NHLe
Dillon Dube  18.197  30.44
Matthew Phillips  18.468  28.47
Morgan Klimchuk 18.581  29.81
Hunter Shinkaruk  18.968  20.41 (injured)
Curtis Lazar  18.664  30.09
Sven Baertschi  18.990  45.92
Micheal Ferland  18.448  22.96

Dube is much better than a few of those picked/acquired by the Flames in recent years. The only players who are close to him are nearly half a year to a whole year older than him. This carries over to the WHL. Of all the players who would’ve been first time draft eligible this year (between the ages of 18 and 19 on Sept. 15), Dube has the second highest PPG, behind Sam Steel, but is the 10th youngest of that whole group. It’s shocking how good he is despite being younger than his peers. That’s why the PGPS system loves him.

And here’s the big kicker: by prospect-stats’ measure, Dube is only getting second line minutes at 5v5 relative to the rest of the league and the rest of his team. Compared to the rest of the league, Dube is 123rd of 388 in average estimated TOI for forwards. On his team, he’s only fifth. You have to wonder how nuts his numbers would be if the Rockets didn’t have the luxury of rolling lines.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot to like about Dube. He’s smart, feisty, speedy, strong, what have you. He’s also tracking quite nicely to be a solid NHL player when he leaves the WHL.

But first, he has two more years of WHL eligibility and at least one more before he’s eligible for the AHL. He’s primed to really break out next year. The Rockets have three players in their top nine who will no longer be eligible, and two others who will likely move out. That will give Dube the spotlight.