And so we trundle a podium onto the stage to present the three medalists of our rankings.
Bowing his head to accept the bronze is the smarts-abounding, puck-impounding, rebound-hounding, goalie-confounding, QMJHL-astounding left-winger and newly-minted captain of the Val d’Or Foreurs, Jakob Pelletier.
How did we get here?
Born à Québec in March 2001—the same year the Colorado Avalanche nabbed their second Stanley Cup after relocating from his hometown—Pelletier progressed with ease and oppressed the opposition throughout his entire minor hockey tenure in the provincial capital. He scored at a goal per game pace in Bantam AAA and finished fourth in points in his Midget AAA league as a 15-year-old. Some kid named Alexis Lafrenière, behind whom every Calgary Flames prospect who plays in Quebec seemed to dog at some point, finished first that year.
Pelletier then trekked eastward from his officially monolingual province originale to the officially bilingual province of New Brunswick to play junior after the Moncton Wildcats snatched him at third overall in the 2017 QMJHL draft. He ultimately logged three complete seasons—sporting the captain’s crest for the final foray—in the city. The Wildcats traded him to Val d’Or this past off-season in exchange for a QMJHL draft first-rounder.
It was after the second season in Moncton when the Flames picked him in the first round, 26 overall, of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Hints of more distinctions wafted through the windows last season, most notably a potential berth on the 2020 Canada World Juniors squad, but a concussion barred him from attending camp, marred his shot of making the team. Still, recognition as the 2020 QMJHL Most Sportsmanlike Player is a cool consolation prize.
Stats, numbers, and everything therein
Jakob Pelletier stands at 5’10” and swells to 170 pounds after a hefty pregame meal, but those are not the numbers one notices while he plays.
Three seasons in Moncton, not one dipping below a point per game pace. Pelletier scored 23 goals and 61 points in 60 games his first year, 39 goals and 89 points in 65 games the next, then 32 goals and 82 points in 57 games this past season. Those bloated numbers in the two recent years earned him spots at seventh and tenth in total QMJHL points, respectively.
So, from whence do 50 assists in two consecutive seasons come? In Pelletier’s case, there seems to be a surplus of these cross-ice lateral laserbeams in his highlight catalogue.
Here's how the #QMJHL took their first lead of the night in the second!
— QMJHL (@QMJHL) November 5, 2019
Multiply that pass tenfold and you grasp the gist of the compilation below. As a left-shooting left-winger, Pelletier soars up the wall on rushes with the ability to zip these crisp feeds under defenders’ outstretched sticks and steepled feet. He does it all the time, especially as a fellow of infinite patience on the power play.
When it comes to pretty goals, Pelletier seems to prefer the forehand flips in tight.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 7, 2018
Snapshots blocker-side all day long.
Using his speed, puck in his feet, gather and finish. pic.twitter.com/63PyCK0nLg
— 🌶Joel Henderson 🌶 (@dathockeydoe) February 13, 2020
Assuming this one counts, too…
#Flames prospect Jakob Pelletier with the 🔥 goal tonight in Moncton's 4-0 win.
Pelletier had 2 goals and 4 points in the victory 👀 pic.twitter.com/a73mxSZhRs
— Torie Peterson (@ToriePeterson) November 22, 2019
But Pelletier pokes home an exorbitant number of ugly goals, too. He digs and prods, scoops and jams every loose puck he can locate with an undeniable knack for sniffing out the trashier tallies.
Jakob Pelletier stuffs it home for Team #QMJHL to give them a 3-1 lead in the middle frame!
— QMJHL (@QMJHL) November 5, 2019
Despite his size, Pelletier never relents on a possible scoring chance. Through this tenacity, this borderline homicidal offensive instinct, he demonstrates just how he exhibits that cliché of smallish guys playing “bigger than themselves” and all.
Sunday's heavyweight bout between Moncton & Cape Breton was insane.
Really liked this work from stylish C Alexander Khovanov (MIN 3rd/2018) & tough LW Jakob Pelletier (CGY 1st/2019). Pelletier gets plastered, bounces right up to bury it.
Khovanov's got that Craig Janney vision pic.twitter.com/tBAHMu8PsK
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) December 2, 2019
Those in the know
Val-d’Or’s assistant coach Alex Cousineau explained why his club was so excited to acquire Pelletier:
He just wants to play hockey and be the best guy out there. So when the puck’s in the corner, he wants to be the guy coming out of the corner with the puck. He’s going to put his nose everywhere. He’s going to go in front of the net, he’s going to get cross-checked and he just doesn’t mind, and that’s his type of play. He’s a little bit of a Brayden Point type of player where he can be very effective offensively but you can put him anywhere on a type of lineup and he’s going to be very good and effective, and he just really doesn’t care the type of game he’s going to play. He’s going to go everywhere, he’s going to get hit, and he likes that type of game also. So he makes his game so effective.
On the horizon
Pelletier is already registering over a point per game with Val d’Or so far this season, and a highly unlikely surprise NHL stint this winter with the Flames excepted, Val d’Or is where he will stay. This year counts as the first on the three-year entry-level contract he signed last fall.
At the moment, however, Pelletier is most notably vying for a spot on the upcoming Canadian World Junior team. Plenty of pundits project him squeaking onto the roster, too.
FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2020