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26th pick Jakob Pelletier and family celebrate 'magical' night at the draft

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

VANCOUVER - Of all the friends, family and fans packing the stands at Rogers Arena, Jakob Pelletier might have had the biggest chorus behind him.

As if in unison, as "Monct…" barely escaped the mouth of Flames general manager Brad Treliving, all 50 of them erupted like no other gathering in the sold-out mass here in Canucks country.

Pelletier, the 26th in Friday's first round, is not just the newest member of the C of Red.

He's bringing an army with him.

"There's 50 of them here with me," Jakob said of the now decked-out Pelletier clan. "Incredible. I'm so happy right now. To be drafted by the Flames, and to have everyone here that supported me over the years, means the world.

"This is a night I'll never forget."


Video: Flames draft F Jakob Pelletier No. 26


His parents, Nancy and Mario, led the family through the concourse only moments after the selection, stopping only to party and briefly to unfurl of bag of swanky new Flames gear.

The visual was something to behold.

Dozens of new fans, members of the Flames family, eagerly ripping the tags off and proudly displaying their new colours.

Jerseys, hats, the whole nine.

A C of Red, indeed.

"It was Jakob's dream to play in the NHL ever since he was five years old," Mario said. "He put the effort in his whole life and deserves every bit of this.

"I'm so, so proud of him. I can't believe it. Our heads are spinning.

"It's a magical night."

Pelletier, a scrappy left-winger described by many on the national broadcast as the 'steal of the draft,' is coming off an incredible year with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL.

He ranked second in team scoring with 89 points (39G, 50A) in only 65 games last year, had a 10-game point-scoring streak, helped Canada win gold at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, and also donned the red and white at the 2019 World U-18 Championship, too.

The Quebec City, Que. native clocks in at only 165 lbs., but he prides himself on his competitiveness, his fire, and a staunch willingness to play bigger than his 5-foot-9 frame would indicate.


Video: Flames' first-round pick speaks to the media


"His jersey needs to get washed at the end of the game, because it's a little bit filthy with the way he goes and scores goals in the hard areas," Treliving said after the pick.

"He's not a perimeter guy. He plays the inside and he's produced.

"When you take a kid at 26, what you're wishing for is, 'Does he have the juice to do anything he can to make it?' So, if he needs to work on his skating or he needs to get stronger, is he going to have the DNA to make sure he's putting the work in?

"You know an old teammate of mine, John Torchetti, is his coach. Torch raved about him. He's coached NHL players. He's got some F-U in his game, and he's got the talent, so we thought this is the right guy for us.

"This kid is going to make it or die trying, and that's what you like about him. … He eats and breathes it and he's prepared to do anything he can to make himself a player."

The size, Treliving says, doesn't concern him.

Every day, the NHL is becoming less of a big man's game, and if a player has the jam (and skill) to drive the play, well, "who cares?"

"He's going to thicken up," Treliving said. "He's not small; he's short right now, but he's got some ass on him, he's got some legs on him, too, and he'll widen up over time."

Pelletier had a feeling he would hear his name called by the Flames.

Mario, too.

He met extensively with the club at the NHL Scouting Combine, and again Friday morning when he - impressively - wore a suit and tie to a casual breakfast.  

First impressions and all.

"(Treliving) asked me, 'Why are you different than the other guys?' And I said, 'I'm a winner and will do whatever it takes to win.'

"The game has changed a lot. I'm confident that I'm a competitor, so I'm going to try and make my role here (in Calgary)."

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