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.
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.
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.