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Pelletier’s Flames Debut Will Carry Weight With Other Prospects

There’s a good chance Calgary Flames prospect Jakob Pelletier makes his NHL debut on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Saddledome.



Considering the Calgary Flames’ reputation for development, and the power young prospects hold in some circumstances, the sight was a positive sign of things that could come. 

Or one thing. For one prospect. 

One thing that the entire city has seemed fixated on for the last couple of weeks. 

Yes, 21-year-old Jakob Pelletier could finally make his NHL debut on Saturday. 

With the sting some still feel from the Adam Fox sleight, and the looming uncertainty around Matt Coronato’s desire to sign with the Calgary Flames, that milestone may be one of the franchise’s most important. 

At least when it comes to the future. 

The present has the Flames stocked up on veterans and in win-now mode. Use your imagination to pretend that is the path they are currently on even if it doesn’t quite align with what we’ve seen so far this season. The future depends on players like Coronato — drafted 13th overall in 2021 — Connor Zary, Dustin Wolf, Jeremie Poirier, and, of course, Pelletier. 

Pelletier skated with Trevor Lewis and fellow prospect Walker Duehr on Friday ahead of their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon. It’s the first time since being recalled a couple of weeks ago that he wasn’t the odd man out. Whether that translates into his first NHL game or a seventh straight scratch won’t be known until warmup. 

Or puck drop. 

“I'm not sure if I'm playing right now so we'll see what happens tomorrow,” Pelletier told a crowd in the locker-room on Friday. “Just to be here, be with the big boys has been crazy. For me, the past 12 or 13 days has just been crazy,” Pelletier said. 

Calgary Flames associate coach Kirk Muller was coy as well, telling reporters they’ll “know tomorrow afternoon” before complimenting Pelletier’s practice habits, which is something he noted can be a struggle with some younger players. 

“He works hard, he practices the right way and shows at young age that he's a good pro,” Muller said of the kid who has been a point-per-game prospect at the AHL level for parts of two seasons. “He prepares; he's ready to go. We talked about that when he gets the call, he’s ready to play.”

If that call comes Saturday against the Lightning, it will be a somewhat symbolic moment, and one that may carry some weight — mostly because Pelletier lacks pounds himself. 

One reason Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter has said has been holding Pelletier out of the NHL is size. Maybe more specifically, strength. 

It’s similar to the plight of Matthew Phillips, although the AHL standout is years older and less likely to bulk up at all. 

Pelletier’s potential is obvious. He has 42 goals and 96 points in 97 AHL games with the Stockton Heat last season and Calgary Wranglers this year. He plays a fairly tenacious game, especially for a guy measuring 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds. 

For someone like Coronato, a college prospect who has a heavy hand in choosing his future, it could carry weight in his decision whether to sign with the Calgary Flames out of Harvard University. As a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, the sophomore will have options. 

Adam Fox forced the Flames to trade his rights, declaring his interest to play elsewhere. 

Giving prospects more time at the NHL level could go a long way in avoiding more of those situations down the road. 

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