Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Dube made up for lost time last season

Life was good and bad for Dillon Dube throughout the 2016-17 hockey calendar. His year began by being selected by the Calgary Flames in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He represented the Flames at the Penticton Young Stars Classic tournament and dressed in an NHL preseason game. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury and was sidelined for several weeks.

Not to be dissuaded, he ended up having a monster year with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets (with 55 points in just 40 games) and captured a silver medal as part of arguably Team Canada’s most effective line at the World Juniors. He even made his pro debut with a one-game playoff appearance for the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.

We caught up with Dube in between sessions at Flames development camp at Winsport.

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You had a pretty crazy year. What was it like from your perspective?

I think it was crazy. To be able to come to Calgary, get experience playing those exhibition games I think was perfect timing with the World Cup and having some guys gone, so that was nice. Unfortunately I got injured there, but it was a bit of a blessing in disguise for World Juniors and the energizing role I needed to play. I only played 10 games before the camp, so I was the guy that had the most energy I guess you could say, so I was able to crack a spot in that lineup and kind of just ran with it. I think it was probably the most fun I’ve had in a tournament. And going into the year I got a lot more confidence and going into playoffs, unfortunately we lost to Seattle, they ended up winning it, to be a big part of the playoff run was a great end to the year.

Were you surprised to get the World Junior camp invite given your small sample size?

Not as much the invite. I kinda thought the whole time i could get the invite if I had a good 10 games, got on their radar again because I felt I had a good summer camp and was still recognized. Going into the camp I felt like a dark horse and didn’t know what was going to happen. I made the most of it, every shift for me mattered and luckily i was able to crack the lineup.

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Did you feel like you opened some eyes in the tournament, in terms of showing you can play a different kind of role at a higher level of hockey?

From U18 all the way to World Juniors I knew that was going to happen, that’s the way I went into it and I just did it to the best of my ability. Lots of players nowadays, if you can play the top six in Kelowna or in the WHL you can always figure out how to play that, that’s the biggest thing in becoming a pro is being able to get a defensive game and I think it showed everybody that I can. I think Calgary’s happy about that, that I can play a two-way game.

What’s next for you this year? Given your age, it could be your last in junior.

I think I’m just going to enjoy it. Junior’s where you’re still having fun, it’s the best time, so I think to really enjoy it and not put too much pressure on myself ’cause 19 years old, that’s the oldest I’ll ever be in a league. Because obviously moving up, always being a rookie and stuff, so really being an older guy and showing leadership and really learning how to be a leader.

How was your experience in Stockton?

It just kinda showed that I have a chance to play here and do my best. It was Game 5, it was the biggest game they had all year so to be a part of that was crazy. Getting off a plane the next day, still a little jet-lagged, but I think overall I was pretty pumped to play in that first game and the stakes that the game was at.

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    • freethe flames

      My take was the following; we have a very good group of young defenders. Rasmus and Fox are both so calm with the puck, Kylington has tremendous offensive instincts, the young Finn is going to be very good, and AOM is going to be good in the aHL this season. The forward group has potential but none of them stood out; last year at the scrimmage both Janko and ET stood out. Foo did some nice things, ditto Pollock, Mangiapane and Phillips as well, Poirier looked okay but I did not see that explosiveness that I remember. Parsons made some very good saves and so did MacDonald.

      • Zalapski

        I thought Healy looked good. Valimaki stood when he had the puck from my end of the ice. I was behind the white teams goal. He made a bunch of great reads letting the play develop. I could see Mangiapane being a really creative forward if he gets some more confidence taking it to the net. AOM is a physical force.

  • L.Kolkind

    I have doubted the Dube pick for a while. I still do think drafting an RW would have been a smarter move. I think WW is partially right in comparing him to Bouma. The better comparison might be to Paul Byron though, an energizer bunny that just keeps going. I have watched Dube a lot, and I’m always more impressed with his linemates skill.

    Dube, like Byron, is not the greatest offensively. I’m pretty sure he also drives play like Byron as well. When I watch the rockets I don’t take statistics, so I have no way to verify this. Dube does everything coaches would ask of a player and works his butt off. I don’t think he has quite the skill or hockey IQ to be an effective top 6 player, but he should be a solid 3rd liner.

      • McRib

        “I have doubted he Dube pick for a while”

        Wwwwhhhhhaaaaatttt, you people need to rethink Dube. If he was healthy all of last year he would have been a Top. 5 scorer in the WHL. Just because he played a checking role (to prefection) on the World Jr Team doesn’t mean he isn’t gifted offensively, when given the opportunity. If Dube played a more offensive role on the World Jr Team he would have been over a PPG as an underager ( remember this is a tournament usually reserved primarily for 19 years olds).

        I watch the WHL extensively and I still believe that Dillon Dube’s skills will translate better than Sam Steel at the next level. Steel is an opportunistic scorer (opportunities which dry up at the next level), whereas Dube as a relentless forechecker who constantly spreads out the ice finding teammates with great cross ice feeds.

        • L.Kolkind

          I’m not going by his PPG in the world juniors that is far too small of a sample size, and like you say he wasn’t put in an offensive role. He was put in the role that he is best suited for in my opinion. He was put in a checking/defensive role, which with his work ethic and ability to pressure the opposing defence works really well. He wasn’t put into an offensive role for a reason though and that’s because he isn’t as good offensively as the other players. Look at our C’s right now, we have Monahan, Bennett, Backlund, and Jankowski. I highly doubt Dube will ever displace either of Monahan or Bennett no matter how much I am supposedly underrating Dube’s offensive abilities. Jankowski is looking. He also won’t be able to slide over to LW and displace either of Gaudreau or Tkachuk, so he will have to play in the bottom 6 if he makes the NHL. Look at our RW’s though and if we had picked an RW we would be in a much better situation.

          I do agree that Dube’s skills will translate to the NHL, just not in the desired role. You say Dube is “a relentless forechecker” which I very much agree with. It is his effort which is his best quality. You then say “who constantly spreads out the ice finding teammates with great cross ice feeds.” This I disagree with. From my viewings, I find he mainly makes short passes in the offensive zone either down the boards or up to the point. Neither of those are bad plays, but his vision and passing do not appear to be as strong as you think. For a 2nd round pick, I expect more than the effort of Dube, or size of Hunter Smith. I wanted someone who projects to be a top line player or high-end 2nd liner. He does seem to be quite injury prone

          I would be very happy with him on the 3rd line which I think he will excel at. I just do not think he will be as effective in the top 6 at the NHL level. He does not possess amazing speed, or a really good shot, or anything that really stands out to put him above other players that were drafted around him. That is why I doubt the pick, work ethic can be learned and while his work ethic may always stand out, as that gap narrows his being a jack of trades at everything else is why he shouldn’t be in the top 6. Drafting Dube was not a swing for the fences pick, it was a “he’ll make it and be a solid 3rd liner” pick. Look how many points Phillips put up, that’s a pick that swung for the fences. In a later round Dube would have been a fantastic pick, but in the 2nd I believe better options were available.

          • L.Kolkind

            Curse you lack of edit button.

            Below are fixes for what I had written. Sorry, I had to do this, but some mistakes badly needed fixing.

            Jankowski is looking better than expected and should hopefully be on the team soon. The next sentence should start with Dube as I began using a different noun once I mentioned Jankowski.

            He does seem to be quite injury prone as well, which could hinder his development. I generally think most injuries are random and could happen to any player. So I am not going to say it will be a problem in the future, but I will say his style lends itself to being more injury prone.

          • HOCKEY83

            “Best suited in a checking defensive role”…. kinda ridiculous when he was 5th on his team in scoring behind 4th by 2 points having played 30 less games then the rest and having the best points per game average on the team. Ya…you’re right he should focus on more of a defensive role. He’s an offensive star.

        • HOCKEY83

          You are right on with this assessment. Skilled players take on different roles in world tournies. Dube will be great. Comparing him to Bouma shows ignorance. Lack of hockey knowledge. Bouma’s AHL and NHL stats are horrible. Dube’s WHL stats are way WAY better than bouma’s. Bouma Wasn’t good enough to find a regular spot on a mediocre team.

  • Puckhead

    Ryan, I have a phenomenal video clip of Foo on Parsons from development camp that I would like to share. I sent a copy to Mike at the nationnetwork but want to make sure one of the FN writers get a hold of it.

  • Zalapski

    I was impressed with Healy and Adam OM today as far D went. They both were throwing some crunchers. I was also really impressed with Poirier at points of the scrimmage. Valimaki is going to be special, so smooth and quick thinking.