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“Most Improved” Flames Player Dillon Dube Finding Consistency and Confidence

Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter says winger Dillon Dube is the hands-down the organization’s most improved player.



Most improved isn’t the most coveted title. It may be the equivalent of the Lady Byng for NHLers. But for Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube, it’s a pretty lofty compliment. 

Head coach Darryl Sutter doesn’t hand those kinds of things out without purpose. 

So despite just one assist in his last five games on the top line alongside Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli, Dube was discussed at length by his bench boss on Thursday. 

“Dillon is the most improved player in our organization, hands down," Sutter told reporters ahead of Friday's game against the New York Islanders at the Saddledome. "Give him lots of credit. He works at his game and it's about repetition, preparation, training, everything.”

Dube is one of those players who Sutter has said probably made the jump to the NHL a bit early. Along with defenceman Juuso Valimaki, Dube was a healthy scratch at times during Sutter’s half-season after re-joining the Calgary Flames mid-season two years ago. 

He’s been tried at both wings and at the centre position, and found a groove late last season with a nine-goal month of April that had him playing with more confidence than we’ve seen from the 24-year-old speedster. 

Confidence and consistency are his two biggest roadblocks. 

When Dube is rolling, he’s thinking less and letting his natural skill and speed take over. But the confidence doesn’t come naturally to him. And that tends to lead to the inconsistency we’ve seen over the years. 

If he gets to a point where he can keep those two things at a level high enough to sustain the play he’s capable of, he’ll cement a spot in the top six and become a perennial 20+ goal scorer who can play in any situation. 

"He's such a repetition and a do -it-right-all-the-time guy, and it translates into his game. I said this about Dillon —it was just about being consistent, right? Sutter said. “When you train and you are consistent, train your brain to do everything properly, then it comes (naturally) when it's for real. Then (you are) more consistent, and he's like that.”

Dube is one of the team’s best and most dangerous counter-attackers on the penalty kill, with two of his eight tallies coming shorthanded this season. 

He is getting time on the second powerplay unit as well. 

Coming into training camp as the team’s fittest player, Dube continues to “climb the leadership ladder” according to Sutter.  

“Guys in our organization gotta take steps. It's not the guys coming (into) the organization, it's those young guys in that age group. Dillon has done a great job,” Sutter said. 

"I've said this about Dillon, also: when you look at his career, his junior career, Memorial Cup and all that, you look at it and how it translates in his (NHL) career, and now you are starting to see that here, too." 

Already in his fifth year with at least 25 games with the Calgary Flames, Dube has enjoyed having a mentor like Mikael Backlund and other older players to guide him. 

"Older guys to learn from was a real important thing for me to become the player I need to be for this team,” Dube said. 

But in the end, it’s up to him to find the right combination of physical and mental preparation to be that player every night. He’s moved past the healthy scratches but those are always top of mind for him as a motivational piece. 

"I don't want to be in that spot,” he said. “I want to try and contribute every night. "(The scratches sit) in the back of my head all the time I come to the rink. You want to help this team win and be on the ice to do that and bring something every day to try and help."

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