As the 31 National Hockey League teams scramble to file their 23-man opening night rosters, the Calgary Flames have essentially made all their decisions. Following today’s practice Flames head coach Bill Peters revealed that two rookies will jump straight from the Western Hockey League to the NHL: defenseman Juuso Valimaki and forward Dillon Dube.
The kids are alright!
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) October 1, 2018
Dube, 20, was easily “the story” of this year’s camp. He was superb in 2017’s camp but was always meant to be headed back to the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Facing an opportunity to go pro, Dube maintained the same exuberance and focus that made him so effective last year and added timely goals and smart two-way play. He was the Flames’ second round selection, 56th overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft – using a pick the club received from Dallas in the Kris Russell trade.
Valimaki, 19, was a bit quieter than Dube in camp – but that might be what you want out of a prospective third pairing defender. He played several preseason games and gradually looked more and more comfortable with the puck. He made several nice plays with the puck and never really looked awful defensively, so he’ll get a shot on the third pairing to beginning the regular season. He was the Flames’ first round pick, 16th overall, in the 2017 NHL Draft. The product of the Tri-City Americans will turn 20 on Saturday.
For the curious, lines at this morning’s practice (via Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson):
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
Dillon Dube – Derek Ryan – James Neal
Sam Bennett – Mark Jankowski – Austin Czarnik
(Extras: Curtis Lazar and Garnet Hathaway)
Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin – Travis Hamonic
Juuso Valimaki – Michael Stone
(Extras: Rasmus Andersson and Dalton Prout)
Jon Gillies, Brett Kulak, Anthony Peluso and Andrew Mangiapane didn’t skate but remain on the camp roster. Lazar skated after clearing waivers earlier today.
The Flames are currently carrying 28 players. They must send five players to the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat prior to tomorrow’s 3 p.m. MT roster deadline.