Smart drafting and development is tremendously important for the long-term success of any National Hockey League club. The Calgary Flames landed Matthew Tkachuk early in the 2016 NHL Draft, so they’re likely already satisfied with their haul. But they have a second forward prospect from that weekend who could be knocking on the NHL door very quickly by the name of Dillon Dube.
A Calgary native, Dube was a first round pick in the Western Hockey League’s 2013 Bantam Draft by the Kelowna Rockets. He made his WHL debut in 2014-15, putting up 17 goals and 27 points in 45 games. He continued to improve, upping his output to just over a point per game in his draft year (with 66 points in 65 games). He was a second round pick of the Flames in the 2016 NHL Draft, selected with the pick they got from Dallas in the Kris Russell trade.
After being drafted, Dube continued his upward trajectory. He had 55 points in 40 games in 2016-17, and his “missed time” in the WHL was spent having a breakout performance on Team Canada’s grind line at the World Juniors, winning silver. This past season he had 84 points in 53 games and returned to the World Juniors as Canada’s captain, capturing gold. He capped off his season with a six-game stint with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.
Dating all the way back to midget Dube has been part of successful teams both at the club and international levels, and he’s usually been a driver on those teams. Here’s a brief summary via our pals at Elite Prospects of his past six seasons:
After such consistent success at the midget and major junior levels, Dube’s attacking his transition to the professional ranks with the same attention to detail. He had four points in his brief Stockton audition and felt he was able to adjust to the pace of play given his previous experiences.
“I think for myself the speed felt the same,” said Dube at Flames development camp. “Not compared to the Dub, but from what I’m used to from the World Juniors where it’s very fast. So I knew going in I was expecting the same hockey and it was. We compared our World Juniors to American League playoff games, and that’s where we were at that point, fighting for the season.”
The challenge for Dube was adjusting to the physicality and battling against grown men with experience winning battles in the trenches.
“The men, they were a lot stronger,” said Dube. “For me, the stick battles were tough and this summer, working with [Flames strength coach Ryan van Asten] and the guys at the Edge will help me and see how much they’re lifting because I lost a lot of battles with my stick and I feel like if I develop on that it can help me make it.”
Like seemingly everyone in Calgary (and everyone with a Flames contract), Dube’s acutely aware of all the moves Brad Treliving made over the summer to change up the mix and load up the roster. He’s heading into the fall with his eyes open and aware that it’s going to be an uphill battle to make the team given the amount of established big league players present.
“I’m at this point still a fan, haven’t made the team,” said Dube. “For me it’s kinda cool just watching the process from a distance and seeing what’s going on, but I say to myself ‘you’re going to have to beat somebody out at one point.’ That’s what I’ve got to try and do now, I’m done junior so it’s time to try and move up and earn a spot. If it doesn’t happen this year or in a couple years, it’s gonna be eventually you’re gonna have to take someone’s spot. They keep adding people and it obviously makes it tougher, but eventually one day you’re going to have to do it.”
Dube impressed many with his performance at last season’s training camp, but he wasn’t able to land an NHL gig. He’ll get another chance in September at his first main camp as a full-time pro.