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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Dube showed tremendous promise despite inconsistency in 2021-22

Dillon Dube has been a bit of an enigma over the past few seasons. On one hand, he’s occasionally one of the Calgary Flames’ most dynamic and impressive players. On the other hand, he’s faced consistency issues to the point where Darryl Sutter healthy scratched him a few times during the 2021-22 season.

He may not always be good, but when Dube is good, he’s really good.

The past

Born in scenic Golden, B.C. but raised in the more scenic Calgary area, Dube played his major junior hockey with the Western League’s Kelowna Rockets. He won a WHL Championship and played in the 2015 Memorial Cup tournament as a fresh-faced rookie, too. He emerged as a point-per-game player in the 2015-16 and ended up drafted in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Flames.

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Dube’s two post-draft junior seasons saw him establish himself as one of the best players in the WHL. He also played in two World Junior tournaments with Team Canada: he captured silver as a checker in 2017, then captained the team to a gold medal in 2018.

Dube went pro in 2018-19 as a 20-year-old and split the season between Stockton and the Flames, making his NHL debut mid-season after a really strong start to the year in the AHL. The following season he jumped to the NHL in November and stayed there for good, finding a fit alongside Milan Lucic and Derek Ryan – Lucic credited playing with Dube as helping him have fun playing the game again.

In the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, Dube played primarily with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, but also with Lucic and Mikael Backlund. He added a nice speedy fore-checking element to his lines, and occasionally made really smart offensive plays, but he couldn’t quite find his consistency.

The present

Compared to 2020-21, Dube bounced around a ton this past season. He was a third line player for the entire season, but his role and linemates varied significantly. He played with Lucic and Sean Monahan, Calle Jarnkrok and Blake Coleman, Jarnkrok and Tyler Toffoli, Tyler Pitlick and Monahan, and with Brett Ritchie and Andrew Mangiapane.

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Sometimes he was a winger. Sometimes he was a centre. He was even healthy scratched a few times. He was on the second unit of the power play, but only sometimes. His most consistent role was arguably on the penalty kill, paired with Mangiapane as an energy pair that generated a fair amount of scoring chances a man down.

Dube didn’t have a consistent year. But to provide consistent minutes, linemates and roles for the forwards ahead of him in the rotation, he was often the sacrificial lamb. Despite being used with whoever was left over from the top two forward lines, Dube had pretty strong underlyings – his personal shooting percentage dipped from the prior season so his production dipped, too. If Dube had a more defined role, one could argue he could’ve been even more effective.

The future

Dube is just 23 years old and has two years remaining on his current deal at a $2.3 million cap hit. He’s in both a good and challenging position with the Flames.

On one hand, Dube is young, versatile and brings a good combination of tenacity, speed and toughness. He can play up and down the lineup and can play both sides of special teams. The challenge for him is that right now, the top two lines are full as are the top special teams units, so he’s destined to be a complimentary piece until somebody above him falters or leaves the club.

For now, all Dube can do is work on his consistency, dazzle with smart plays occasionally, and bide his time until he gets an opportunity at a bigger role.

2021-22 Flames player evaluations

Johnny Gaudreau | Calle Jarnkrok | Matthew Tkachuk | Trevor Lewis | Jacob Markstrom

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