2023-24 Calgary Flames predictions: Jakob Pelletier has breakout season

Photo credit:Jenn Pierce/Calgary Wranglers
Jeff Middleton
7 months ago
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I don’t want to jump the gun and say that last season’s time in the NHL was forgettable for Jakob Pelletier, and I’m sure that he wouldn’t say that either, but it certainly wasn’t one where many people on the outside looking in felt like he got a fair shake in the lineup. When he wasn’t sitting in the press box for whatever minor mistake he made during a game, and his head coach wasn’t forgetting his number in the postgame press conference after his NHL debut (that he reluctantly allowed to even happen in the first place), he was playing pretty sheltered minutes and not getting much luck to go his way either. But, I have a sneaking suspicion that 2023-24 will be a breakout year for the young winger.

Prediction: Jakob Pelletier scores at least 50 points in the top-six

I know, I know, it may feel like an ambitious prediction, but what’s the fun in doing these if you don’t swing for the fences every once in a while?
Pelletier had plenty of things going for him last season, even if he wasn’t showing up on the scoresheet. First and foremost, his style of play was incredibly fun to watch, especially on a team that looked lifeless for the majority of the year. The injection of a youthful player with speed and skill over grit and physicality was a great wake-up call to the kind of fun you can have when watching hockey. There’s also the fact that in both the regular season and the postseason with the Calgary Wranglers of the AHL, he was over a point per game. It wasn’t anything crazy, but 37 points in 35 games and 10 points in 9 games, respectively, can do tons for a player’s confidence. And finally, the fact that the older players, specifically Jonathan Huberdeau, who was still trying to find his own stride in Calgary at the point Pelletier was brought up, took the 21-year-old under his wing and taught him important lessons about being in the NHL.
Pelletier understood that with being young comes some growing pains, such as you not playing as much as you’d probably like to every night. However, if he is able to find solid footing within the top-six of the Flames in 2023-24, we could see a big breakout come both in the box score and analytically.
Below is his regularized adjusted plus-minus chart from Evolving-Hockey:
And here is his isolated impact via HockeyViz:
Pelletier didn’t light up the scoresheet by any means, but him having a positive analytical impact is a good sign. He could use a little work defensively, but as a young player with the skillset that he has, that’s the least of my concerns at this point. If he can continue going to the right areas of the offensive zone and regression hits his 6.3% shooting percentage positively, we could see some things go very well for him in 2023-24, and that’s just at even strength. A significant amount of power-play time would also do him wonders in the box score.
Just to reiterate, I am fully aware that 50 points might be a bit of a stretch, but if Pelletier can be a point per game in the AHL under former Wranglers head coach Mitch Love and have this kind of impact offensively at the NHL level under Sutter with poor luck involved as well, a massive point-scoring breakout could be just around the corner for one of the organization’s top prospects. There’s potential for him to be a meaningful player playing meaningful minutes next season, and the hope is that he can take advantage of that. He certainly has the attitude and maturity to do so.

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