American Hockey League

Solid rookie season has Dube on cusp of NHL

Dillon Dube is another year older, another year wiser, but his goals remain the same.

The 21-year-old forward is focused, of course, on making the Calgary Flames roster out of training camp — like he did last fall after graduating from the Western Hockey League and finishing up his final season with the Kelowna Rockets.

This time around though, his objective is broader.


And full-time.

“I just feel like I can do it,” explained the well-spoken Cochrane resident who was selected in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft. “I think last summer I didn’t know what to expect going into camp. I didn’t know whether I was going to make it. Whether I was going to be in Stockton or playing there or not. A lot of that was answered (in 2018-19), what I can do. 

“Making it out of camp gave me lots of confidence last year.”

It’s hard to believe Dube is still technically a rookie as he reported for Thursday’s physicals and fitness testing at WinSport, ahead of the on ice portion which begins on Friday. Of the group which includes Matthew Phillips, Glenn Gawdin and 2019 first-rounder Jakob Pelletier, it would seem that Dube has a legitimate shot to crack the lineup again in 2019-20.

Rewind to last September and you’ll remember that he had earned his spot in the Flames’ dressing room after a standout rookie camp which he translated into a productive main camp. With the majority of the team in China, participating in a pre-season series against the Boston Bruins, the speedster was able to shine with relatively no pressure on his shoulders.

Dube battles P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators on Oct. 19, 2018.

Al Charest/Postmedia

But early-season injuries derailed his momentum and progress, forcing a stint with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat before returning ahead of the (brief) 2019 post season.

“I think last year was all about developing my game,” said Dube who logged 25 appearances (scoring once and adding four assists) at the NHL level and another 37 in the AHL (15 goals and 24 assists). “It was my first year pro, so I think there were a lot of nerves, just to see how I’d fit with men. And this year, I know how I fit in with men but all that matters is building my game.

“Whether that’s Calgary or Stockton, I just need to take a step so I can get to my best self as a pro.”

Sounding as if he just came from his 2018-19 exit interview with the big club, it’s clear Dube paid attention to what Flames general manager Brad Treliving and the coaching staff advised him to focus on during the off-season.

There was a lot to process, to be sure. 

His first foray into life as a professional hockey player was colourful and educational, giving him plenty of on-the-job situational experiences.

Now, after a summer of training with Flames strength and conditioning coach Ryan van Asten, it’s about taking another step — and many already have him penciled on the opening-day roster. 

Although Dube isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“I want to be here full-time,” Dube said. “I want to make an impact on the team every night, and hopefully, they can rely on me. 

“The feel-good story is over. Now, I’m going to earn a job every night.”

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