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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation prospect wrap-up: Dillon Dube

The final steps of the Flames’ rebuild likely happened at the 2016 draft, where the Flames came up loaded with draft picks and returned with a handful of very, very promising prospects. One of them is already trending towards being an elite NHL player, and there are two or three that look to at least be regular contributors. Given that NHL teams usually get around one player per draft, it’s not a bad haul.

The next in line to graduate is Dillon Dube, the second Flames pick of that draft. The youngish (still 19) centre has grown immensely, starting his career as an under the radar energy player and finishing it as a potential top six winger. He may not be one of the most exciting, both in play style and in potential, but Dube is likely to be one of the Flames’ more important players moving forward.

Background

Dube has always been one of the Kelowna Rockets’ star gems, having made the leap to the WHL from the prestigious Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Saskatchewan. Having been buried on some deep, Memorial Cup-worthy teams, Dube worked his way up year after year, slowly earning respect from hockey minds. He got the attention of Hockey Canada, earning nods for the CHL-Russia superseries and the World Juniors, picking up a silver medal in the latter during the 2017 competition.

2017-18 story

Dube’s season got off to a hot start as he made a name for himself due to a strong training camp, and survived until some of the last rounds of cuts (arguably due to a jammed up roster and the contractual convenience of sending him back to junior rather than merit). He then joined the Rockets for his fourth WHL season, trying to follow up on a strong but injury ravaged 55-point in 40-game year.

Dube also had high expectations to meet for the 2018 World Juniors, where he was named captain on a team still aching from the previous year’s defeat in the gold medal game. He played strong, no-nonsense hockey on Canada’s top line, picking up five points in seven games.

With the Rockets, Dube had an outstandingly good season. He smashed all previous bests, hitting new highs in points (84), goals (38), and assists (46). He did this all in 53 games, which would translate to 114 points over a full 72 games.

The numbers

GP G A P Primary points 5v5 points 5v5 primary points NHLe
WHL 53 38 46 84 65 47 39 37.69

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Dube was probably one of the more consistently strong performers year round. After the WJC, Dube’s NHLe never dipped below 34, and never slipped below 35 during the final month of the regular season. His improvement from the beginning of the year to the end is particularly impressive.

I also love his knack for generating primary points. His P1/G ranks ninth in the WHL in all situations, and fifth at 5v5. Factoring in estimated time on ice, he finished sixth in estimate P1/60 at 5v5. All in all, he’s really really good at being the primary scorer, regardless of the game state.

Comparables

Methodology note: what I do to find these comparables starts with era adjusting prospect scoring numbers, both for all situations and 5v5, then comparing the adjusted numbers to the real numbers of players within the same age range by year (starts at 1996-97 for the WHL). Players within 10% on either sides of the prospect’s PPG and have played 20 games are what I consider comparable players.

From those comparable players, those who hit over 200 games are considered successful NHLers (so players up to the 2014-15 season are included, as they have had the potential to play in over 200 NHL games) and their PPGs are taken down. After that, we compare the ratio of successful NHLers to the non successful, add up the GP and points scored, and then we have a workable number for how likely it is they will be successful, and how strong of NHLers they will be. Always remember that percentages don’t determine futures and this is not a final say about a prospect’s career, but a good idea of where they are likely headed.

The full data for Dube’s comparables can be found here, including comparable data for his ages 16-18 seasons.

The numbers are pretty strong for Dube, especially considering the ratio of WHL players who actually play in the NHL (i.e.: given the proximity of junior CHL leagues to the NHL versus AHL to NHL, you are likely to find a higher percent of matches, as players in the AHL actually have an easier path to the NHL). Of players who performed similarly to Dube this year, one-third made it to 200 games in the NHL, scoring at a .45 PPG clip. At 5v5, that number slips a little to 22%, but the production remains similar, .44 PPG. From hits in both the AS and 5v5 categories, the percent of successful similar players jumps to 37%, with PPG slightly bumping up to .46.

When considering his entire career, Dube has some interesting comparables. Very strong comparables include Brandon Dubinsky (matched 5/8 categories) and Cody Eakin (5/8). Clarke MacArthur (4/6, as MacArthur only played three WHL seasons) is also an interesting comparable. Jordan Eberle (4/8) also makes an appearance on the list. If we can draw one general conclusion, it’s likely that Dube will be a reliable 40-point scorer in the NHL, and could even see 50-60 points per season during his prime. That’s something to get excited about.

One particularly interesting comparable is Brendan Gallagher. Dube matched Gallagher in six of eight possible categories, making them extremely strong comparables, and the strongest of all matches. Given the similarities in height (5’10 vs 5’9) and playing styles (small, but plays hard and not afraid of contact; strong two-way players who can play special teams; equally good at scoring goals and puck distribution), the two are nearly a perfect match. Gallagher joined the Habs immediately following the 2012-13 lockout, and has been a .5 PPG scorer throughout his career with very strong possession numbers. Let’s hope Dube can also replicate that.

The future

If you’re a Flames fan, you have to be cheering for the Tri-City Americans. They’re currently up 3-0 against the Rockets. The sooner Dube is eliminated, the sooner he can join the club. Since Dube doesn’t count as a recall, the Flames can get him some shifts, see what he’s made of, start trying him out on special teams, and do it all without burning a year on his contract – maybe one thing to look forward to as this awful season winds down. After that, he is fair game to join the Stockton Heat and help with their playoffs.

After that? A roster spot might be his to lose. If you can think back to the preseason, Dube was arguably one of the most impressive forwards. Even saddled with a dog’s breakfast of players (Luke Gazdic, Garnet Hathaway, Tanner Glass, and Ryan Lomberg were his most common linemates), Dube left an impression on Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. I think his odds are pretty good.

And there is likely a spot open. If he wants to remain a centre, Matt Stajan is likely leaving and Nick Shore and/or Curtis Lazar are probably not going to outshine Dube for it. If he wants to play wing, his options might be a bit more limited as LW is the deepest position in the org. Perhaps he can free up one of Matthew Tkachuk or Sam Bennett to get reps on the top line. There’s a lot you can do with Dube, which means there’s a lot more you can do with the rest of the roster.

All in all, a pretty exciting prospect that can certainly make some noise next year.

Previously

Filip Sveningsson | Eetu Tuulola | Adam Fox | Linus Lindstrom | Pavel Karnaukhov & Rushan Rafikov



  • Korcan

    Love this kid’s game and character. Would like to see him mentored on Backlund’s left (a la Tkachuk and Bennett), freeing up Tkachuk to play alongside Johnny & Monahan or Benny & Janks. That would be preferable IMO to him being 4th line center.

    • McRib

      The 2016 Draft was great, but we weren’t far along enough in the rebuild to start giving away all the picks this year. See what Winnipeg is doing, we should’ve stayed the course in the rebuild. Giving away a Top. 10 pick this year is going to hurt us (plus that second rounder is also a Top. 40-45 pick). Treliving has puts way more pressure on our scouting staff to find later round steals, hopefully they’re up to the task.

  • withachance

    Hope he’s not rushed into the big league due to all the hype. Don’t want to pull an Edmonton and ruin the prospects in the organization (Valimaki, Dube, Foo). I think the reason that Andersson looks so primed to join the NHL is because he had time to season in the AHL. Hopefully Dube gets the 9 game look, and if he does look unreal in the NHL then keep him, but otherwise send him down to AHL and play a season of pro. Don’t panic and stay the course.

    • McRib

      “Don’t want to pull an Edmonton and ruin the prospects in the organization“

      Yeah, Edmonton sure ruined Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz. Oh wait no they didn’t, they just traded them all away for nothing as they were all entering prime.

      • withachance

        They gave up on Eberle and Schultz because they weren’t performing as well as they would’ve liked. Who knows what would’ve happened if they played in the AHL for a season before being rushed to top line duties against the best players in the league? Notice how they only got better when given some time in the league (also change of scenery helped). They sure handled Yakupov and Puljularvi well didn’t they? The only good thing Edmonton has done in regards to prospects recently was Nurse and Yamamoto and letting them season in minors before bringing them up for the big leagues for an extended amount of time. Wouldn’t be surprised if those two stay with the Oilers for long term and that’s what the Flames need right not: develop their prospects properly instead of listening to critics screaming doomsday

        • Baalzamon

          Eberle was a regular 60 point scorer for the Oilers. Not “performing as well as they would’ve liked” was one season where his shooting % cratered and he scored 51 points instead of 60. So bad!

  • BendingCorners

    I’m not clear on how the numbers presented – 35% chance of playing 200 NHL games and scoring 0.45 PPG – translates to “likely that Dube will be a reliable 40-point scorer in the NHL, and could even see 50-60”.
    I hope he accomplishes that but the numbers suggest he probably doesn’t make it and if he does it’s as a third line center.
    I like the kid and he has potential, but so do a lot of guys that bust out. What am I missing besides blind optimism?

      • The PPG number is an average based on how similar players produced. He could score more, he could score less. Not everyone will perform at the average, but given what the average is, it is a pretty good sign of what he could produce.

    • Baalzamon

      the numbers suggest he probably doesn’t make it and if he does it’s as a third line center.

      As always, people have a weird perception of scoring tiers. 45 points is average second line production, NOT third line.

      • BendingCorners

        .45 PPG is 37 points which is low for a second line player. But he does have upside as a few people have pointed out and could end up scoring 45-50 points, second line as you say. I’m hoping but not expecting, at this point. Maybe I’m just jaded because so many other prospects have flamed out over the years.

  • oilersuck

    Does anyone have more info on the knee from last night? I saw a clip and it was probably a penalty but not 5 and a game. Was the misconduct for something else?

  • JMK

    Gaudreau – Monahan – Tkachuk
    Dube – Backlund – Frolik
    Bennett – Jankowski – Ferland
    Mangiapane – Shore – Lazar

    I know lots of us were optimistic last season, and it’s not that different but still not a bad forward line for now. 3rd line is probably the biggest question mark. Will a good RW be on the market this year? Can the Flames afford them? Will Foo make the team? How much trade value would Ferland, Frolik, Jankowski have to perhaps get older (I know Frolik is not young) more established players for 3rd line? Would Tkachuk inspire some fight in Monahan? Perhaps Tkackuk is 3rd line and you find a different top line RW.

    • JMK

      I didn’t include Bennett in trade value, as I personally don’t think Calgary will get back what he’s potentially worth. Even if his future is a 3rd line player, he’s still a decent one with upside.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      I’d never trade Ferland or Jankowski for some older third~liners… Why trade away young up coming talent for easy to get bottom 6 vets? Sorry but that makes zero sense from every angle.

      • JMK

        I’m not saying I’m necessarily in favour of doing that, but Ferland has only excelled when alongside Johnny and Mony and Jankowski, although he is still young and has potential, how long until he is an effective 3rd liner? A lot of complaints this year have been about Calgary’s scoring depth, and sure I’d love to be optimistic and say give Bennett and Jankowski another year and a better RW than Hathaway and all will be fine. But is everyone okay with playing the optimism card again? Another complaint is that Calgary are in win now mode. If you can package Ferland plus something else for a legit top line RW, do you do it? If you can package Jankowski for a relaible 40-45 point scoring 3rd liner, do you do it?

        • ThisBigMouthIsRight

          No I wouldn’t move Janko for a 3rd liner. It was Janko’s first year as a reg… Lets see what he has for the future, he has a history of getting better with time(and a new coach). Depending on who the legit top line guy is, Yeah I’d consider moving Ferly+(depends upon the +) The Optimism card is called growing from within, that’s kind of the whole point to the Drafting thing. Calgary Definitely overestimated their level of ability when they decided to go all in this past year and that has now hurt them a bit as far as the next couple of Drafts go (until the draft and then trade can be made).
          Honestly, there will be a new perspective and claw back on the “win now” with a cautious focus on just getting better (including a top 6 RW? I hope so.) and then see where it goes with the new coach, plus some player movement this up coming year.

          • JMK

            To be honest I don’t like the idea of trading young guys. One of my favourite parts of following hockey is watching prospects develop. I’ve just seen so many people complain this year about secondary scoring and the struggles of the third line, was posing some questions to see what people think. I think a Bennett Jankowski Ferland/Foo line could turn out great but it is a gamble if people are expecting results next year.

    • McRib

      I like this lineup. It’s time Tkachuk goes out on his own away from the 3M line
      Into a more offensive situation. Backlund is capable of carrying a younger player again like Dube. Nick Shore is worth a shot as 4C. If Lazar doesn’t increase his play overt he first 20-30 games of next season I think it’s time to move on, but he deserves one final chance next year.

      I honestly think with a better coach we would have at least made the playoffs this year. Adding someone with speed like Dube on the wing would greatly help this club, even if he doesn’t produce a ton offensively to start w could use his wheels.

  • Backburner

    Just throwing this out there.. would it make sense for the Flames to trade one of there top D prospects to the Ducks for Sam Steel? Might be worth looking at by the way these two played at WJC.

    • Nick24

      Sam Steel is solid, I just can’t imagine Anaheim is looking to add another D, especially with an ageing forward group. Steel is probably someone they see as vital. From the Flames end, they’re probably looking to add someone a little more established. Rickard Rakell or Ondrej Kase would probably be much more interesting to the Flames, but it’s hard to see the Ducks moving a young forward.

  • Just.Visiting

    I’d love to see the Flames try Dube with Backlund and Frolik. You could then let Byng drive a ine with Bennett and Janko as a second scoring line (2A) line, with the Backlund line becoming a 2B line. Speed, smarts and character define Dube, and this placement allows him to build his offensive game while using the more advanced piece of his game.

    I wasn’t originally sold on this pick, but became a big fan in training camp last year.

  • FL?MES

    It’s interesting how many people suggest pairing young guys up with Backlund. If Backs is a consistent top performing shutdown centreman and can also assist with the development of young prospects then I would suggest that his contract is good value.

    PS I think Dube would do fine on any of the top 3 lines.