For awhile, the Calgary Flames have had the challenge that their skilled players weren’t overly big and their big players weren’t overly skilled. At 26th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Flames hope they’ve found skilled smaller player in Jakob Pelletier that plays big.
Following the first round, Flames general manager Brad Treliving outlined why Pelletier was the right player for them to select at 26th overall.
“Jakob is a guy who we’ve obviously followed all year,” Elite compete, elite hockey sense, and those are two things that we value greatly. Very productive, got skill, but he’s got hard skill. He goes into hard areas. The DNA of this kid, like I said, a high, high motor. And just ultra, ultra competitive. Tons of character and that’s the core of the young man and it’s wrapped in a pretty skilled package so we thought it was a good pick at that spot.”
Pelletier described his game as “a small guy who’s going to play big. Treliving noted that he’s an offensive minded player – Pelletier was second among his age group in the QMJHL at goal-scoring at even strength – who’s able to play a rounded game, as he killed penalties. Treliving added that Pelletier is a player who isn’t afraid to go to the rough areas of the ice – he joked that the winger has a little “eff you” in his game.
“His jersey needs to get washed at the end of the game because it’s a little bit filthy,” said Treliving. “He goes in. He goes in and scores goals in hard areas. It’s not perimeter. He plays inside. And he’s produced. he’s been productive. But he’s a guy who’s going to need some time, but to us, we have attributes we think are important and we stick by them, and a really good kid.”
The Flames met with Pelletier the morning of the draft and the 18-year-old had an inkling that the team was interested. Treliving noted that Pelletier was part of several players that the team had ranked in a similar grouping. At 26th overall, the Flames felt that his combination of skill and competitiveness was right for them.
“He’s gonna thicken up,” said Treliving. “Maybe not small. He’s short right now, but he’s got some ass on him, he’s got some legs on him and he’ll widen up. But what he’s gonna do… he’s years away, right? He’s not right around the corner. But what you love about this kid is he eats it, breathes it, and he’s prepared to do anything he can to make himself a good player.”
For a glimpse at his drive: Pelletier suffered an ankle injury during the QMJHL playoffs, but elected to go to the Under-18 World Championship anyway. He also had an interesting response to a question the Flames asked him both at the combine and on the morning of the first round.
According to @Burkie2020, the five-foot-nine, 165-pound left-winger from the Moncton Wildcats said Trelviing said in the #Flames interview: "Why should we take you at 26?" Jakob Pelletier said "Because I will win the Stanley Cup." Interview over.
— Kristen Anderson (@KdotAnderson) June 22, 2019
Treliving confirmed this story.
We said, ‘we’re sitting there at 26 and we’ve got a few names, why do we call Pelletier?’ And he said, ‘because I’m going to help you win a Stanley Cup.’ It’s better than saying “because I like the mountains,” but it’s authentic with him… He’s a driven, competitive kid.
Pelletier is the second player the Flames have drafted from the QMJHL in as many rounds – they selected Dmitry Zavgorodniy in the final round in 2018 – and the first they’ve taken in the opening round since Emile Poirier in 2013. In an interesting twist of fate, Pelletier’s coach in Moncton is John Torchetti – a veteran NHL coach who was teammates with Treliving in 1990-91 with the ECHL’s Winston-Salem Thunderbirds.
The 2019 NHL Draft continues on Saturday when rounds 2-7 will be conducted. The Flames have four selections in the second day of the draft.