Flames prospect Jakob Pelletier's stock rises after solid season with AHL's Stockton Heat

Jakob Pelletier’s exit interview with the AHL’s Stockton Heat went something like this … Article content Offence? Check. Defence? Check. Improvement across the board? Check.

Enough checkmarks to give the 2019 NHL first-round draft pick a real chance to make the NHL’s Calgary Flames in the near future — perhaps even in the fall.

“I hope so …” said Pelletier with a deep breath and a long pause. “My dream is to play in the NHL. If they think I’m ready to play, I’m going to play. But first, my goal is to go to (Flames) camp and make the team.” Article content He’ll likely get that chance, sooner rather than later.

Despite the playoff pitfall to the arch-rival Edmonton Oilers, the Flames’ 2021-22 season should be considered a major success. But a tweak of the lineup here or there, and the injection of fresh blood — think Pelletier — is a strong bet.

After all, the Quebec City kid — still just 21 — is coming off a solid first professional puck campaign with the Flames’ farm team.

“It was a great season,” said Pelletier, thinking first of his team’s success. “Great playoff, even though we expected more (after an AHL Western Conference final series loss to the Chicago Wolves). But overall, we can proud of what we’ve done, and I think the future is bright for the organization.” And bright for the 26th overall Flames draftee himself.

The former Moncton Wildcats and Val d’Or Foreurs star followed up a sparkling junior career — 107 goals and 275 points in 210 QMJHL games — with a solid maiden AHL season. 

Pelletier netted 27 goals and 62 points in 66 games — only veteran Matthew Phillips filled the net and the points column more than him with the Heat — and followed with four goals and seven points in 13 playoff games.

“It’s because of the players that I play with here,” said Pelletier, again deferring to a team-first take on the season. “I think they help me a lot. And I think I had a great season because we had a great season. A huge part of my success is because of my team.

“I played with great players all year long. We had a great team. It’s hard not to be happy when you don’t lose. I think before Christmas we lost three games. So just the vibe at the rink and the mood of the people and the players was great. And I think when you’re in a positive environment, there’s going to be a positive outcome.”

Certainly, there weren’t many negatives stemming from his Pelletier’s own play, even though it was his first foray in the pro ranks.