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31 in 31

Top prospects for Calgary Flames

Valimaki, Dube, Kylington each set to expand NHL role

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Calgary Flames, according to NHL.com.

 

[Flames 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]

 

1. Juuso Valimaki, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 16 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Calgary: 24 GP, 1-2-3; Stockton (AHL): 20 GP, 4-10-14

Valimaki (6-foot-2, 212 pounds) will have surgery and be out indefinitely after tearing the ACL in his right knee during a training session, general manager Brad Treliving said Aug. 12. He had a strong showing in his first season of professional hockey in 2018-19, playing 22 of the first 23 games of the season with the Flames before he was sidelined by a high-ankle sprain. He returned for two regular-season games in April and two Stanley Cup Playoff games after rehabbing with Stockton of the American Hockey League.

"We made changes because he showed he was ready to play in the League," Treliving said, "and then got a real good run and stretch where he was playing meaningful minutes in all situations [in Stockton], and comes back in and was able to get experience in the playoffs. Despite the injury I really think there was major growth with Juuso."

The 20-year-old, who plays a calm, panic-free game with good vision and mobility, was expected to compete for a full-time role on the left side before the injury.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 31 in 31: Calgary Flames 2019-20 season preview

 

2. Dillon Dube, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 56 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Calgary: 25 GP, 1-4-5; Stockton (AHL): 37 GP, 15-24-39

Dube, like Valimaki, made Calgary's roster out of training camp last season. He played 20 of the Flames' first 25 games, averaging 10:16 of ice time, before continuing his season with Stockton to develop in a more prominent role.

The 21-year-old center, who was captain of Canada's 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship-winning team, averaged 1.05 points per game in the AHL last season, one of 13 players to average more than a point per game (minimum 30 games played).

Dube (5-11, 187), who has shown his offensive prowess in the AHL and Western Hockey League, is expected to compete for an NHL roster spot this season.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

3. Jakob Pelletier, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 26 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Last season: Moncton (QMJHL): 65 GP, 39-50-89

Pelletier finished seventh in points in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season and has 150 points (62 goals, 88 assists) in 125 games since being selected with the No. 3 pick of the 2017 QMJHL Draft. The 18-year-old helped Canada to first place at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and played for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April.

"It's just going to take some time," Treliving said of Pelletier's goal to reach the NHL. "This is not a guy who is going to get all the things he needs to get done to be an NHL player between now and September, but you can see he's quick, he's competitive, he's a driver."

What Pelletier lacks in size (5-9, 160), he makes up in determination. In addition to his high-octane pace, Pelletier has good vision and creativity.

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22

 

4. Oliver Kylington, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 60 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Calgary: 38 GP, 3-5-8; Stockton (AHL): 18 GP, 7-7-14

Kylington (6-0, 183) spent the majority of last season in the NHL, though he was used primarily in a depth role when there were injuries at defenseman. Still, he showed glimpses of his NHL-readiness and produced the sixth-most points among Calgary defensemen despite his limited playing time.

"Oliver has really taken a step each year," Treliving said. "Opportunity presented itself through injury and he grabbed a hold of it and showed what he was capable of doing and played the majority of the year in our top six and was a part of the success our team had in the regular season."

The 22-year-old, a dynamic skater who has greatly improved his decision-making with and without the puck during his time in the Flames organization, is a strong candidate to expand his role this season.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

5. Mathias Emilio Pettersen, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 167 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: University of Denver (NCAA): 40 GP, 6-24-30

Pettersen (5-10, 170), who helped Norway to a third-place finish at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Division 1A tournament, finished second in points for Denver in 2018-19, fourth among NCAA freshmen.

The 19-year-old has solid puck-handling abilities and a strong transition game. He is expected to be given ample time to further develop those skills at the collegiate level.

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22

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