C of Red Prospects Corner - Jakob Pelletier

After a few weeks away, I’m back with another edition of the C of Red Prospects Corner where I’ll be analyzing the game of Jakob Pelletier, the captain of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) Val-d’Or Foreurs and the 2019 first round selection of the Calgary Flames.

Pelletier was the third overall pick in the 2017 QMJHL Draft to the Moncton Wildcats where he's put up 232 points in 182 games and won the league’s most sportsmanlike player award this past season. He also represented Canada at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships this past Christmas, where he notched three goals and four assists, starting out on a shutdown line with Colorado’s Alex Newhook and Edmonton’s Dylan Holloway before getting promoted to Canada’s top line with Dylan Cozens and Connor McMichael for the semi-final victory over Russia and Canada’s gold medal loss to the United States.

When the Flames made their selection at the 2019 draft, I was a tad hesitant. I’ll be the first to admit I was really hoping that Connor McMichael would fall to Calgary at the 26th spot in the draft and when he was taken one selection prior to the Washington Capitals, I was a tad disheartened. This is no shot at Pelletier by any means, I just fell in love with McMichael’s game and the fact he came from London where the Knights produce NHL-caliber players at an alarming rate had me sold. Then I heard the talk about Pelletier’s pre-draft interview with the Flames brass where he was asked ‘Why do you think we should draft you?’ And Pelletier said, ‘Because I’m going to win a Stanley Cup.’

I didn’t need to hear anything else. I knew the Flames had made the correct choice, even if McMichael was still available to them at 26. His answer alone tells me he hates losing and how can you not love that? Isn’t that what the sport of hockey is all about? Winning games and eventually championships? There’s a reason he was immediately named the captain of the Foreurs after he was traded from the Moncton.

Even though he is small in stature, listed just 5’9, 161 pounds, he is highly skilled with a seemingly endless motor that allows him to be heavy on the forecheck and quick to get back on defence. According to “offensively, he is very opportunistic and if he smells a scoring chance, he seems to have an extra gear and killer instinct”. He has a great shot but I think he’s also a very underrated passer, as displayed at the World Juniors when he found Connor McMichael with a nifty feed.

Pretty impressive stuff. This next clip is probably more impressive due to the fact he was able to freeze the Blainville-Boisbriand goaltender with a fake shot before dishing a beautiful no-look pass to his teammate Justin Robidas for an easy one timer.

The vision and awareness of Pelletier to be able to analyze the situation quickly and make the decision to fake the shot knowing he had a teammate open goes to show how creative he is in the offensive zone.

The thing I like about Pelletier the most though is his drive to win and his leadership skills. They are by far and away his most admirable attributes in my opinion. He didn’t have a letter on his jersey at the World Juniors, but the fact he went around and consoled each teammate after Canada’s 2-0 loss to the Americans in the gold medal is something you can’t teach.

“I think that people saw who is Jakob Pelletier,” said Olivier Fortier in an interview with Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson, who was a captain in the QMJHL, spent a hat-trick of seasons in the Montreal Canadiens’ system and is now an agent for Momentum. “As a player, that’s one thing, but as a teammate and as a person and as a leader … I think everyone saw he is a good teammate. (Head coach Andre) Bear Tourigny called him the sunshine in that dressing room, and you can tell all his teammates really like him, really appreciate what he brings to the team.

“Yes, everyone saw he is a good player, that he can skate and bring some offence and all that. But I think the world saw that he is a great leader and that beyond his game, he is just so important for a team in the dressing room. And he’s a winner.”

I think Pelletier is still a year or two away from cracking the big club, but when he does I can foresee him taking on a two-way role for the Flames, similar to what we’re currently seeing from Andrew Mangiapane. Pelletier can play on both the top or bottom six, can chip in on both the power play and penalty kill, he is tenacious on the forecheck and will be an all-around energizer bunny every time he touches the ice. I think Flames fans will have a lot to be excited about with Jakob Pelletier when he gets his chance to don the flaming ‘C’.

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