Every Thursday, NHL.com will look ahead to the 2019 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.
Jakob Pelletier has a hard time finding the right words to explain what makes him a big-time player. All he knows is that it's in his DNA.
The 18-year-old forward with Moncton in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League may have two seasons of experience in the league, but his reputation as a clutch performer is well-established.
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"I don't really know (how to explain it)," Pelletier says. "Some people crumble under pressure, but it only makes me stronger. I think it's a good thing. It may be the little extra energy in these games that makes me skate faster or makes my shot better.
"I think it gives me a little boost."
Pelletier was seventh in the QMJHL with 89 points (39 goals, 50 assists) in 65 regular-season games, the most points among QMJHL players eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. He also was third for Moncton with six game-winning goals.
He also returned from an ankle injury sustained in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs against Baie-Comeau to score the winning goal in Moncton's 3-1 win in Game 6 in a series Moncton won in seven games. Moncton was swept by Halifax in the second round, and Pelletier finished the postseason with three points (two goals, one assist) in seven games.
That wasn't the first time Pelletier has come up big in the postseason. As a 16-year-old he led the Quebec AAA league with 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 17 playoff games to lead Seminaire Saint-Francois to the league championship, and then had a tournament-high 10 points (three goals, seven assists) to lead Seminaire Saint-Francois to a second-place finish at the 2017 Telus Cup, Canada's national midget hockey championship.
Pelletier is No. 27 in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of North American skaters.
"He's probably the smartest player on the board from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League," said Troy Dumville of NHL Central Scouting. "He'll out-think you and beat you to spots and is a really quick skater. He's got playmaking skills, scoring ability and has a high compete level game in and game out."
Pelletier has built on a rookie season that saw him finish with 60 points (23 goals, 38 assists) in 61 games and earn a spot on the QMJHL Rookie All-Star team.
His size (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) could give some scouts pause, but Pelletier's statistics, talent and competitive style of play prove otherwise.
"Doubts, that's something that everyone faces," Pelletier said. "You can make your own way if you respect your identity. ... Hockey has changed a lot in recent years. I don't think Jack Hughes is much bigger than me and he's going to be the No. 1 pick and have a great career."
Hughes, a center with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team, is No. 1 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters while measuring 5-10, 170 pounds.
"His size doesn't change a thing," said Darren Rumble, who coached Pelletier with Moncton until being fired Jan. 7. "He isn't afraid to go to the net, which is where he scores. His goals are rarely the most beautiful, but he gets his nose dirty and isn't afraid of anyone."
The bottom line is NHL teams are focused on getting faster and more skilled, two aspects of the game that Pelletier certainly brings to the table.
"He continues to increase his value through his consistency and production," NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. "He plays with speed and intelligence. He is always first on the puck, he doesn't hesitate to go to the net and he's able to generate offense.
"He's an offensive catalyst and scoring threat every shift."
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