Flames prospect Jakob Pelletier could join elite tier of 18-year-olds

While much of the discourse around Flames prospects has focused on Matthew Phillips and company down in Stockton, Jakob Pelletier has been racking up points in the QMJHL. Taken 26th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, he was initially projected to go either late in the first round or early in the second round, and already looks to be a steal.

While Pelletier was not included in Canada’s 2019 Summer Showcase Roster, his impressive play has earned him a spot on the very competitive World Junior Selection Roster. He is just one of 17 forwards in that group.

Playing for the Moncton Wildcats, the diminutive forward sits third in league scoring with 48 points in 25 games. He is only behind Alexis Lafreniere, a generational talent likely to be taken first overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, and Cedric Pare, a 20-year-old overager who plays on the same line as Lafreniere.

What makes Pelletier’s season even more impressive is that he is only 18 years old, and short of him making the jump to the NHL next season, he has another season to play before he is even eligible for the AHL. The next highest 18-year-old player in the league, Xavier Simoneau, has 40 points in 29 games and is draft eligible this season.

Pelletier is also third in points-per-game (PPG) among players with at least 17 games played with 1.92, behind only Lafreniere and Alexander Khovanov, who also plays for Moncton. While it is expected for top forwards in the QMJHL to be at least at the PPG mark, it is rare to see an 18-year-old prospect at the 1.90 PPG mark. The next highest 18-year-old in the league in terms of PPG is Dawson Mercer at 1.57 points per game, and is projected 19th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft by Future Considerations.

Considering Pelletier was selected 26th last year and is putting up the numbers he is so far this season, drafting him looks like an absolute win for the Flames. Pelletier’s point pace is impressive, but even if he does drop that down to the 1.80 mark, it’s still incredibly rare, and looking back through the years shows that.

2018-19 season

Last season, zero 18-year-old players finished at the 1.80 PPG level, among all players with at least 17 games played. Only one player in the whole league eclipsed the 1.90 PPG pace last season: 19-year-old Maxime Comtois . He’s one of the Anaheim Ducks’ top prospects, scoring seven points in 10 NHL games with them. The highest scoring 18-year-old that season was Joseph Veleno, who finished with 1.76 points per game, and is widely regarded as one of the Detroit Red Wings’ top prospects.

In his age group, Pelletier was second in scoring with 1.37 PPG, behind only Lafreniere, who averaged 1.72 PPG.

2017-18 Season

In 2017-18, once again no 18-year-old players hit the 1.80 PPG mark. The top player that season was Vitaly Abramov, a Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick who now is a member of the Ottawa Senators, with 1.86 PPG. The highest scoring 18-year-old that year was Comtois who had a 1.57 PPG.

In his 16-year-old season, his first year in the QMJHL, Pelletier put up 1.02 PPG, and was second only to, you guessed it, Lafreniere who hit 1.33 PPG as a 16-year-old. It is small wonder why people see Lafreniere as a generational talent.

Further back

Only six players have hit the 1.80 PPG in the QMJHL in their 18-year-old season, and most have become impact NHLers today.

Player NameSeasonQMJHL PPGDraft Position
Nikolaj Ehlers2014-151.989th
Conor Garland2014-151.93123rd
Jonathan Drouin2013-142.353rd
Jonathan Huberdeau2011-121.953rd
Jakub Voracek2007-081.917th
Derick Brassard2005-062.006th
Sidney Crosby*2004-052.711st

*Crosby’s season was as a 17-year-old. He did not play his 18-year-old season in the QMJHL as he was playing in Pittsburgh that season. He’s included just for fun to show how good he was in Junior.

Elite Company

Pelletier is putting up points in bunches so far this season. While it’s only halfway through the season, barring injury, there is no reason to expect him to slow down his stellar scoring pace. Even if he does slow down to 1.80 PPG, he’d still be among elite company. Among a class of players that were mostly drafted in the top-ten, it appears that Pelletier could be an absolute steal at pick number 26. He is definitely a player for Flames fans to keep an eye on.

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