The future of the Calgary Flames franchise will be on display this week in Penticton. It’s the return of the Young Stars Classic.
Fortunately, fans don’t have to be there in person to soak up all the action. The Calgary Flames website will stream from the South Okanagan Events Centre as the Flames prospects battle their counterparts from the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.
From September 16-19, the four-team tourney will showcase the young talent expected to make up the bulk of their American Hockey League ECHL rosters, as well as some standouts from major junior.
But there are some names on this roster who could translate a good tournament into an invitation to main camp. From there, anything is possible. The lineup is primed for a young forward to jump into contention for a top-9 spot this season.
Although it’s still believed Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving is working the phones to add via the NHL Trade block, there are some top prospects who will get added attention over the next few days.
Jakob Pelletier is a popular name to watch. By virtue of his position on the left flank and his strong showing at the AHL level, he’s already been plugged into some pre-season lineup projections – mine included.
After four dominant seasons in the QMJHL, Pelletier proved he could be a force in the pros as well. As a freshman with the AHL Stockton Heat last season, he scored 27 goals and 62 points in 66 games. The 21-year-old added another four goals and seven points in 13 playoff games during the team’s run to the Western Conference Final.
That experience can only help his goal of making the jump to the NHL sooner than later. When asked about Pelletier as an option last season, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter suggested it was too soon. But he didn’t discount that possibility beyond the first year.
“You want them to have one or two years of success, for sure. It’s a big jump,” Sutter said at the time. “There’s a big difference between the American Hockey League and the NHL. Especially when you’re a first-year pro and you’re undersized.
“Jakob Pelletier is an awesome, awesome kid. He’s got a great mindset for the game and energy for the game, but it’s quite a bit different. If you’re not an elite, elite scorer at this level — such as someone like Johnny (Gaudreau) — and you’re playing against guys that are 40 to 50 pounds bigger than you, you’re going to have trouble. You just have to mature and develop and that’s, for sure, what Pelletier will do.”
We’ll see this week what he looks like against the other kids. In a couple more weeks, it’s a good bet he’ll get some time with the big boys.
|Game 1||Calgary vs. Vancouver||Friday, Sept. 16||8:30 PM MT|
|Game 2||Calgary vs. Edmonton||Saturday, Sept. 17||8:30 PM MT|
|Game 3||Winnipeg vs. Calgary||Monday, Sept. 19||12:00 PM MT|