There’s a lot of buzzwords that always pop up regarding Flames prospect Dillon Dube: scrappy, gritty, hard worker, high effort level, etc.
Good things in and of themselves, but it masks the real qualities Dube brings to the game. He was Kelowna’s best offensive producer and arguably their best two-way player, raising his stock from “under the radar” to “one to watch.”
Dube is another addition to the Flames’ org-wide depth at centre, but could quietly be one of the better additions to the pool in recent years. He jumps from #14 to #8 in this year’s rankings.
A brief history
Dube found his way to the Kelowna roster in his draft-1 year, but was however buried deep in a loaded Memorial Cup-bound roster. Despite seeing very limited minutes his rookie season, Dube finished the season with 17 goals and 27 points in 45 games. He turned it on for the WHL playoffs, scoring 11 points in 18 games and later adding an assist in five Memorial Cup games, a trophy he hoisted at the end of the year.
Dube’s draft year saw him take a major step forward, both with the Rockets and internationally. He participated in the Hlinka tournament, scoring three points in four games, tied for third on Canada’s team. In the Dub, he finished just a smidge above a point per game, scoring 66 in 65: again, good for third on the team in scoring. With a sleeper draft year, there was definitely a lot of momentum heading Dube’s way, and some were heralding him as a potential second round steal. The Flames agreed, selecting him 56th overall in the 2016 draft.
Just as things were starting to go his way, Dube’s 2016-17 season began as poorly as possible. A lower body injury held him out of the first two months of the season. However, Hockey Canada remained believers, naming him to the CHL-Russia series roster while he was injured. Despite an uphill battle for a roster spot on the WJC squad, he made the team ahead of bigger names like Sam Steel and teammate Nick Merkley. Although his three assists in seven games didn’t necessarily scream dominant, Dube certainly put in a great effort at the WJC, arguably the leader of Canada’s most effective line.
Back in Kelowna, Dube finished with a dynamite 55 points in 40 games (first on the Rockets in PPG) and later added 21 in 17 playoff games (tied for second). He would finish second in points per game among the whole draft+1 group of WHLers, all while being the 10th youngest of that group. His season ended with the Stockton Heat, joining the team for the deciding Game 5 in which the team was eliminated.
Larry Fisher covers the Rockets for the Kelowna Daily Courier, so he knows a thing or two about Dube’s game. He shared some thoughts about the Flames prospect.
The Flames prospect I’m most familiar with, Dube showed off a different side at the World Juniors, displaying a 200-foot game in a bottom six role, but he’s still an offensive catalyst for Kelowna with top six NHL upside.
Dube’s biggest strength is his elite and effortless skating ability, and although he’s undersized in terms of height, he’s sturdy in the same sense as Sidney Crosby. Just ask Kamloops’ Garrett Pilon or the next guy on this list — both of whom got the worst of open-ice collisions with Dube this spring. Assuming he’s back in the WHL for a fourth season – and not sticking with Calgary out of training camp — Dube should be dominant and potentially among the league’s leading scorers despite missing a month for the World Juniors again.
Dube was at his best in the first round of this year’s playoffs against Kamloops, staging a game-within-the-game battle with Blazers goaltender and World Junior teammate Connor Ingram. Calgary fans should find a way to re-watch that series — any game and every game — for a glimpse of what Dube is capable of. Or just take my word for it, that he was the best player on the ice.
ESPN 710 Seattle’s Andy Eide concurred with Fisher’s assessment on many aspects of Dube’s game.
Dube missed the first seven weeks of the 2016-17 season but came back strong to post 55 points in just 40 games. When healthy he is the quintessential 200-foot center who is just as strong in his own end, matching up against top lines, as he is a scoring threat. Dube was invited to Hockey Canada’s summer camp and should be in the mix this year to play for Canada in the World Juniors.
What comes next?
Dube’s 2017-18 season should follow the same schedule as the 2016-17 season: play for the Rockets, head to World Juniors, join the Heat afterwards (depending on how far the Rockets/Heat go in their playoffs).
The caveat is that he’ll be in a heightened role wherever he goes. Last year, he occupied a middle six role for Kelowna and a fourth line role for Canada. With impressive results for both teams, he’ll probably get a slight promotion. Three players who had more or similar amounts of 5v5 team (Calvin Thurkauf, Reid Gardiner, and Nick Merkley) are all likely headed out. He’ll be one of the older players on Team Canada’s roster, and given his deployment during the summer series, it’s likely he’s one of the minutes munchers for Canada. He likely won’t be the star of the tournament, but Canada is going to lean on him and lean on him hard. He’s the type that can handle it.
Given some of the issues that plagued him in his draft+1 year, it’s hard to clearly extrapolate what his NHL future could be. It is probably too early to think about the NHL just yet, but a great season could throw that all up in the air. Given his youth (just turned 19 last month!), he still has one more season of WHL eligibility after this year. If he really tears it up this year (likely), the Flames should definitely fast-track him into the AHL for 2018-19.
|#20 – Ryan Lomberg||#19 – Adam Ollas Mattsson|
|#18 – Daniel Pribyl||#17 – Eetu Tuulola|
|#16 – Adam Ruzicka||#15 – Emile Poirier|
|#14 – David Rittich||#13 – Hunter Shinkaruk|
|#12 – Matthew Phillips||#11 – Jon Gillies|
|#10 – Morgan Klimchuk||#9 – Andrew Mangiapane|
Submit your NFL lineup in this FREE Draft Kings by September 10th for your chance to win $100,000 for the highest scoring player. If your roster matches up perfectly in Week 1 then you could walk away with $1,000,000,000 from Draft Kings! Enter your lineup today.