By Torie Peterson
After a tremendous 2017-18 season with the Kelowna Rockets and a stint captaining Canada to gold at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, Dube looks poised to make the leap to play pro full-time next season.
Watching him in camp, he looked like a seasoned vet among a sea of baby-faced rookies trying to get their bearings. In drills, he was dominant from every standpoint. During Sunday’s scrimmage, he and his linemates – Matthew Phillips and Yasin Ehliz – could easily be tabbed as the best five-on-five trio on display and Dube really propelled that group.
Everything Dube does looks effortless. He’s able to play in any sort of role he’s given and excels. That’s a very unique quality for a young player to have and bodes extremely well for him and the Flames moving forward in his development.
While every prospect has different strengths and weaknesses, the one area that the vast majority need to work on after being drafted is getting stronger. The Flames work individually with each player to ensure their training regimen is best suited to their needs and the work strength and conditioning coach Ryan Van Asten has done has clearly paid off. Several prospects made sizeable gains over the past year, filling out their frames with more muscle: Eetu Tuulola, D’Artagnan Joly, Dillon Dube, Linus Lindstrom, Filip Sveningsson, Spencer Foo, Brett Pollock, Matthew Phillips, Josh Healey, and Juuso Valimaki all look like they’ve added plenty of strength since their stint at camp last July.
THE NEW GUYS
Last week’s camp was the first opportunity for many fans to watch the 2018 draft class in action and they did not disappointment. Martin Pospisil, Demetrios Koumontzis, Milos Roman, Mathias Emilio Pettersen, and Dmitry Zavgorodniy put in good performances in camp and during Sunday’s scrimmage.
Pospisil was as advertised – a heart-and-soul style of player who definitely doesn’t shy away from playing in the hard areas and can chip in with skilled plays. During five-on-five scrimmage play, he looked very comfortable working with David Jankowski and Jordan Ernst.
Koumontzis really showcased his playmaking abilities last week, capping off his first camp with a great scrimmage. Teamed up with Lindstrom and Pettersen in even-strength scrimmage play, he deftly distributed the puck and picked up an assist thanks to this no-look back-pass:
Roman displayed his strong skating ability throughout the week and was able to show off his offensive skill on Sunday, playing alongside free-agent invites Bobby McMann and Jimmy Lambert. Roman’s puck skills are one of his best assets – he can hit his teammates with a great pass and he has a hard, accurate shot.
Pettersen, who was given the coach’s award for his diligent work during camp, is an adept puckhandler who reads the ice extremely well. He and his linemates – Lindstrom and Koumontzis – were one of the best even-strength lines in the scrimmage. Even in a limited viewing, his play in his own zone was impressive.
Zavgorodniy may have been one of the smallest players at camp but trying to knock him off the puck was a challenge for his opponents thanks to great core strength. He is able to absorb checks thanks to the aforementioned strength and good positioning. He also manages to evade defenders with his speed, dipping through the offensive zone with ease.
MAKING AN IMPRESSION
The Flames had 19 free-agent invitees at camp this year, a higher-than-usual number. These players, from the CHL, BCHL, MHL and NCAA, were looking to keep themselves on the radar with the club and use camp as a possible springboard for a contract later on down the line.
Every invitee turned in a good performance but here are a few that really stood out for me last week:
Forward Bobby McMann, who is heading into his junior year at Colgate, scored a beautiful goal in Sunday’s scrimmage and was a standout in individual drills during on-ice sessions. The Wainwright, Alta., product boasts a powerful, accurate shot and is a handful for defenders when he gets in on the forecheck.
Forward David Jankowski is not only a spitting image of his older brother Mark, he plays a similar game, as well. The pivot manages the puck well, can distribute it with ease and is positionally sound.
Goaltender Matthew Galajda had a tremendous freshman season with Cornell last year, leading the NCAA with a 1.51 GAA and was second with a .939 save percentage in 29 games. Trying to get a read on goaltenders in practice is difficult but Galajda came up big in the scrimmage for Team Gelinas.
Calgary Hitmen defenceman Yegor Zamula played a really poised, responsible game on Sunday, managing the play well and kept himself in good position throughout the scrimmage.
THE RIGHT WAY … EVERY DAY
The Flames incorporated this slogan as their mantra for development camp and want the prospects to keep this saying in mind as they challenge themselves to take the next step in their careers. Throughout camp, the organization made sure to emphasis not only the on-ice fundamentals but the off-ice details players need to be mindful of as they develop. From a cooking class with nutrition tips to off-ice training evaluations and programs, to working on their teamwork skills with a trip to the Calgary Police Service’s training obstacle course, the Flames hammered home the fact that ‘the right way’ applies to all aspects of their lives.