The Calgary Flames skated on Friday morning in advance of their Saturday matinee game with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Based on practice, we think that the Flames will be making a lineup change. We think prospect Jakob Pelletier could be making his NHL debut on Saturday.
Speaking after practice, Pelletier told the assembled media that he wasn’t 100% sure. Associate coach Kirk Muller handled media duties in place of head coach Darryl Sutter and didn’t tip his hand. You’re more likely to get missile codes than to get the coaching staff to discuss lineup or injury information.
But Pelletier was skating on a line with Trevor Lewis and Walker Duehr on Friday. The extra forward, clustered with the same jersey colour as Nazem Kadri’s line, was Adam Ruzicka. Based on how the Flames have handled every other lineup change, Pelletier’s in.
The Flames’ first-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, Pelletier’s been one of the more promising prospects in the system over the past few seasons. Since being selected, he’s ticked a lot of the developmental boxes you would hope a top prospect to tick:
- He captained his QMJHL team (Moncton), and was made captain in Val-d’Or after an off-season trade.
- He made the Canadian national junior team, was a point-per-game player, and won a silver medal.
- He went pro and established himself as a first-line AHLer with 62 points in 66 games.
- He was named the QMJHL’s most sportsmanlike player in 2019-20.
- He was a QMJHL second-team all-star (2019-20), a QMJHL first-team all-star (2020-21) and made the AHL’s all-rookie team (2021-22).
In short: Pelletier’s been a strong prospect and keeps progressing. And it seems like he’ll get the reward, and the massive challenge, of his first NHL appearance on Saturday.
Presuming he plays on Saturday, Pelletier will be the first Flames player ever born in the 2000s. (He was born in March 2001.) He would also be the first member of the Flames’ 2019 draft class to play NHL games, though teammate Dustin Wolf dressed as Flames backup netminder twice in 2021-22 (but didn’t see any game action).