Since Brad Treliving became Calgary Flames general manager in 2014, the club has done a great job at finding good players in the first round. Not only that, they’ve managed to find players that force their way onto the National Hockey League radar very quickly.
(18-year-old) Sam Bennett would’ve made the team in 2014 if not for the discovery of a shoulder injury that required surgery – and he still forced his way onto the playoff roster. Matthew Tkachuk barrelled his way onto the opening night roster in 2016. Juuso Valimaki was a late cut in 2017, but managed to beat out Brett Kulak for a roster spot in 2018.
Jakob Pelletier might have been drafted later than his three predecessors – 26th overall – and he may be a tad bit smaller physically than Bennett, Tkachuk or Valimaki. But what he lacks in draft pedigree and size, Pelletier makes up for in determination.
“I think my mindset, my main goal is try to make the team,” said Pelletier of his approach for the remainder of the summer and preparation for his first big league camp. “But if we’re realistic, I’m not going to make it. But it’s just a progress to become a more better player, a more complete player. To be more powerful in my skating, more stronger.”
Originally from Quebec City, Pelletier has plied his trade in several places where hockey is a big deal; in addition to his minor hockey in Quebec City, he’s played two full seasons for the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL. His trip to Flames development camp was his third such trek to the Stampede City, but so far his trips have all been more business than pleasure – the others were for a pair of successful try outs for Hockey Canada’s Under-17 and Under-18 national teams. (Speaking midway through camp, he jokingly remarked that his favourite part of Calgary is the rink.)
Pelletier was one of the smallest players on the ice at development camp, but due to his status as the lone first round selection in camp he drew a lot of media and fan attention. He beamed about his excitement to be drafted by a Canadian team and conveyed his determination to make a strong impression when he returns to Calgary for training camp.
“I want to make it hard to cut me or to be like the last one to be cut,” said Pelletier. “I don’t want to leave the camp early. I want to make it hard for them and show them what I can do.”