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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects: #8 Dillon Dube

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.

Quotables

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.

Previously

#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

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  • Baalzamon

    Strikes me as an Andrew Cogliano type.

    I like Dube, but why is he ranked ahead of Mangiapane? I would think that Mangiapane’s AHL results and consecutive 100+ point OHL seasons would count for something, no?

  • Sound_Defence

    Off topic, but talk of Flames signing Jagr is heating up last couple days. I’m going to be brutally honest here. I want him on the team. Like how awesome would it be to see Jags in a Flames jersey this season? Uh? UH?? Do it BT. DO IT.

    • Off the wall

      Your preaching to this choir mate!
      I know everyone wants to see our youth make the lineup, me too, however this last season 30 games were not sold out at the Dome. He alone, would bring so much buzz to the City and I don’t think there is a fan in us that wouldn’t love to see this legend on a Canadian team, especially our fanatical Flames.

      Just for one year please? Imagine seeing Jagr surpass Geordie Howe for games played?

      I honestly don’t believe Jagr would block any potential candidates for the position. He plays RW and we don’t really have any prospects that fill that void this season. Poirier is a long shot, given his recovery status. I also like Foo, but would be great for him to play in the A for a season.

      Can you picture a line of :
      Versteeg- Bennett- Jagr

      On the PP? Yes please

      If Treliving can convince Jagr to take $2.5 M, let’s pull the trigger on this legend. Treliving has the gift of making everything look so inviting. Let’s hope he swangles
      (not a real word) this and we sell out every game!!
      Oh and put Lord Stanley in Jagr’s hands..

        • Off the wall

          Haha BTF, I read that from Friedman as well. Pretty vague tweet from him but I really hope there is something beyond what he’s not saying.

          Imagine the flowing locks of silver and black curls dancing in the pre- game warmup.

          Seeing #68 in a red retro jersey.

          Can you imagine what influence this would have on a group of young players? His work out regiment is legendary as the man himself.

          Whether it happens or not, this fan is always hopeful.

          Besides Tre has the ability to pull off what most GM’s couldn’t.

          Time for history to be rewritten

  • The GREAT WW

    I like this Dube kid; but I never understood why we used such a high draft pick on him.
    Forwards with zero finish around the net are a dime a dozen, regardless how fast he is…..

    WW

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          I’ve never understood this line of thinking. 2nd rounders have a 25% chance (if not lower) of making the league at all. Aren’t you looking for somebody in the 2nd round that will at least play? With Monahan and Bennett as our future top 6 producing centers, wouldn’t the org be looking for someone to slide into the bottom 6 that plays a sound defensive game and can shut down other teams top lines? Perhaps make an older Backlund trade-able in a few years if Bennett takes off? Sometimes the high ceiling offensive guys never figure it out defensively. They look shiny from junior but can’t make that jump (Schremp, Shinkaruk, Dustin Boyd, Virtanen, countless others)

          • Carl the tooth

            Flames new drafting approach seems to be hockey IQ as a main attribute over size . It’s working from what I can see so far . How many of these flames prospects will actually make it too NHL ? I’d almost say half of them are guaranteed we’re golden . Obviously we can’t give them all roster spots . If jankowski and Dube make an impact in NHL I hate to say it but it may make Backlund exspendable in a couple years

          • Nick24

            You should never be drafting for what you need on your NHL team. You should always be trying to get players that will be the most valuable, and if you end up with too many good players in one position, you can always make trades to address other weaknesses in your line up. 4th line players can easily be had for very, very cheap so it makes no sense using a draft pick on a player that projects to be a lower rotation guy.
            Furthermore, if you have a high caliber that doesn’t meet expectations maybe they work out as lower rotation player. But when you have a player that has the ceiling of a 3rd or 4th liner and they bust out it’s incredibly unlikely they’ll even be NHL players.
            Often times, players touted as being strong offensively but aren’t able to reach their projections work out as very good middle and lower rotation players, so they are able to figure it out defensively.

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Nick 24… I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I think sometimes people equate “best player available” or as you put it “most valuable” with the highest available upside. What I am saying is there sometimes is a lower upside prospect available who still might be “best available” given their chance of playing in the NHL is higher. It’s precisely why Vancouver traded Shinkaruk for Granlund. Whether that proves to be a Vancouver win ultimately is to be determined (although it’s looking that way), but the point is… drafting a Dube in the 2nd is not a waste in my opinion. This kid to me seems like he’ll make his way to the show as a reliable defensive 3rd line centre. Too me those aren’t found all that easily.

      • L.Kolkind

        You could take any players highlight video to make him look good. For a player to be a top level finisher in the NHL they typically score at least 1.5 points/game in the WHL. Dube’s 1.375 is quite a bit short of that. Yes he is quite good for the WHL, but when he takes the next step to the AHL, how will he do? At the NHL level his points per game will surely decrease again.

        • McRib

          Dube “only” put up 1.375 PPG last year because he was coming off a substantial injury and played on a deep team where he didn’t receive primary minutes. Plus on a case-by-case basis looking at a PPG threshold means nothing compared to transferable NHL skills. Jamie Benn someone who led the NHL in scoring two years ago had 1.27 PPG at the same age and same WHL franchise, compared to Dube’s 1.38 PPG. Dube has an adavnced Hockey IQ and tremendous work ethic, which will translate to NHL success.

  • L.Kolkind

    In the Canucks Army prospect bio linked in the article, it has Dube “project as a gritty bottom six forward who can chip in offensively in the NHL.” There are quite a few players lower on this list with much higher projections. I would have ranked Gilles, Rittich, Klimchuck, Mangiapane, Poirier, and Phillips ahead of Dube.

    I think his points totals will not appreciate the adjustment to the pro game and he will show that his strength is in his energy as a bottom 6 player. He will be in tough competition with Lomberg who has more ability to fight and hit.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      You cited a Canucks army rating of prospects over the flames nation one? That sir, is called confirmation bias. You were looking for any old source that agreed with you.

      I think Dube belongs in the top ten, myself. I could see him being the next Backlund.

    • oilcanboyd

      Agreed. Shouldn’t have to google a player’s basic stats!
      Also rankings should also be based on year expected to start in the NHL. Ranking a prospect in the top 5 would be useless if it will be 3 years before he is ready.

  • Just.Visiting

    Difficult to see him at C in top nine unless Bennett is written off or Backlund isn’t resigned. Even then, I think that Jankowski is ahead of him. Seems like a really solid 200 foot player with Frolik type point potential if he got those minutes. Might end up competing for a spot on the wing in due course or being part of a really solid fourth line.

    • Carl the tooth

      Can’t wait . Mangiapane jankowski and foo on a line to light up the tournament. Dube Phillips. Parsons etc this is gonna be a good one too bad fox and other college prospects can’t attend

  • Carl the tooth

    Flames Drafting era The Abyss
    First rounders
    :Daniel Tkaczuk bust
    : rico fata. Bust
    : Oleg saprykin. Bust 3rd liner at best
    : Brent Krahn. Bust
    : chuck kobasew bust 3rd liner at best
    Eric nystrom bust 4th liner
    Dion phanuef great pick but then overpaid him .
    Kris chucko bust
    Matt pelech bust
    Leland Irving. Bust
    Greg nemisz bust
    Tim Erixon. Bust
    When did change there scouting? I think feaster cleaned house and hired all new scouting before he was ousted . But from there the scouting is night and day . Backlund ,bears thi,monahan ,gadreau ,Brodie , etc .

    • Carl the tooth

      All Hail Trevling !! Gm of the year !
      Looks like he may get GM of the decade next . Let’s get some votes for trevling to play in the ALlstar game .

      • Carl the tooth

        And tod button and crew thx for setting us up for easily a decade of good hockey maybe even a future dynasty here if these players can reach there potential.

        • Carl the tooth

          Flames lines in 3 years 2.0
          gaudreau monahan Tkachuk
          bennett jankowski Foo
          Mangiapane Dube Phillips
          Klimchuck Lazar Ferlund

          Brodie Hamilton
          Gio. Valimaki
          Klington Fox
          Anderson

          Parsons
          Gillies

          • cberg

            Looks good, but points out the absolutely brutal competition that’s going to be there for Forwards especially. Guys better light it up to even get their chance. Also points out the potential for some awesome trades which if this is the line-up would be draft pick and prospect returns. If the Flames can continue with solid drafting it should mean good things for quite a while to come.