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2022 Flames Second Round Targets: Dylan James

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Photo credit:Dan Hickling / Hickling Images
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
From time to time, hockey clubs draft players from their local areas. Sometimes it works out fairly well – Dillon Dube sure has been a good Calgary Flame, for example – and sometimes it’s not as successful. This year’s promising local product is college-bound forward Dylan James.
Could James be a fit for the Flames at 59th overall?

Scouting report

James is a local boy, born and raised in the Calgary area. He’s a left shot winger listed at 6’0″ and 181 pounds. He’s an October 2003 birthday, and as such is one of the older first-time eligible prospects in the draft class.
He worked his way up through minor hockey, including stints with the Bisons and Buffaloes, before landing in the USHL this season with the Sioux City Musketeers. He’s committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2022-23 season. His hockey resume involves a lot of short stops in a bunch of different levels of hockey, but he’s consistently been a key offensive contributor on good teams.
Case in point: he was named the USHL’s Rookie of the Year this season and was a big piece of a Clark Cup Championship team in Sioux City.
Evan Pace of Dobber Prospects provided this rundown on their site (this is a partial excerpt, the full rundown is quite long):
Dylan James is a smart, two-way forward with good instincts and solid upside. He is someone who never gives up on plays, likes to mix it up on the forecheck, and can handle the physical game now and at the next level. After a productive year with Sioux City where he was awarded the USHL’s Rookie of the Year award, he is off to North Dakota where he will fit in well due to his skillful yet powerful game. One thing that really stands out about James is his awareness and intelligence without the puck, always being in the right areas and looking for ways to exploit the defense. When he is at his best, he is driving hard to the net looking for a tip or rebound and giving maximum effort on the forecheck/backcheck. James isn’t someone who flies around the ice but can get up to speed fairly easily, and loves to take advantage of open space.
Our Daily Faceoff colleague, Chris Peters, had James ranked at 61st on his Top 100 list:
A hard-working, driving forward, James was a big piece of a championship team in Sioux City this year. He gets to the net well and saw his point totals soar in the second half. His ability to get inside presence and battle for space is admirable. He doesn’t have sensational puck skills, but he generates offense consistently, nonetheless.
Smaht Scouting’s Austin Garrett noted that James “excelled in the grinding, slower paced game of playoff hockey,” but expressed doubts as to whether he has the skill level to be more than a bottom six winger, even though he processes plays well and tries to make high-end plays.
If nothing else, James has proven to be constantly adaptable (as he’s moved through new levels of hockey each season) and consistently able to find ways to score goals and generate offence. Confidence in his ability to continue to do that in the future is probably what determines where he lands on each NHL club’s draft board.

The numbers

James had 28 goals and 61 points in 62 games with Sioux City, scoring at just a smidge below a point-per-game pace. He was third on the Musketeers in points and tied for second in goals.
He led all rookies in goals and points. He was 18th in points league-wide and 13th in goals. He was named the USHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Availability and fit

James ticks a lot of boxes for the Flames. He has decent size. He can score consistently. He’s shown progression year over year in a lot of different levels, though he has a fairly small high-end sample size compared to other players who might be available at 59th overall.
Might be be available? Based on the various major rankings, there seems to be a good chance:
Daily Faceoff: 61st
TSN (Bob McKenzie): 61st
TSN (Craig Button): 51st
The Athletic (Corey Pronman): 64th
McKeen’s Hockey: 63rd
Dobber Prospects: 83rd
Smaht Scouting: 54th
Central Scouting: 37th (North American skaters)
Will James be available at 59th overall? There’s a strong possibility. Would he be the best possible choice for the Flames at that spot? That depends on who else is available, and your level of confidence that James can continue to grow, adapt and progress as he moves into higher levels of hockey.

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