The Calgary Flames drafted Jakob Pelletier in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft out of the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL. Since then, he was traded to the Val-d’Or Foreurs and served as their captain in 2020–21.
Pelletier was touted as a solid two-way centre and was selected slightly higher than his consolidated draft ranking suggested. However, he earned a spot on Canada’s World Junior roster this past year and played extremely well up and down the lineup en route to a silver medal.
The 2020–21 season was his last in junior hockey and Pelletier was named a QMJHL first team all-star, an honour no Flames prospect has had since Denis Gauthier all the way back in 1996.
Pelletier will play professional hockey next season either with the Stockton Heat or the Calgary Flames. With his career trajectory so far, there’s a very good chance he’s in the Flames’ lineup on opening night.
Pelletier’s on-ice results
The Q might be a high scoring league, but Pelletier has absolutely torched the league and improved every single year.
Pelletier has been a durable player, rarely missing games and playing big minutes each night. He steadily improved his point totals each year in the Q, putting up a massive 43 points in 28 games this past season. The Foreurs were a very good team and advanced all the way to the QMJHL finals. They actually swept their first three series going 9-0 before losing in six games to the Victoriaville Tigres in the final round.
We wrote about Pelletier’s incredible offensive totals a couple years ago. He unsurprisingly didn’t maintain his ridiculous ~2.00 P/GP pace, but he still put up incredible point totals. The most impressive part of this though, is Pelletier’s ability to play a strong two-way game. He has been touted as one of the best two-way forwards in the league and didn’t sacrifice any offense to do it.
In the playoffs, Pelletier was a monster for Val-d’Or.
Pelletier maintained his points per game pace in the playoffs and finished third in playoff scoring. It was his last shot at a junior title and he laid it all on the line for the Foreurs.
Internationally, Pelletier has represented Canada in the U17, U18, and U20 WJC. He did not wear the maple leaf in the 2020 WJC due to an injury sustained in December. However, he exploded for Canada this past WJC after putting up unimpressive totals in the previous two tournaments.
Pelletier really solidified himself as a jack of all trades type player, able to fill in on any line, down the middle or on the wing. He played both sides of special teams and was often lining up next to Canada’s top offensive players like Quinton Byfield and Connor McMichael.
Pelletier’s strengths and weaknesses
On the ice, Pelletier is good at, well, everything. First and foremost, he has a high hockey IQ, which allows him to thread nifty cross ice passes and set his teammates up for success. His vision as a playmaker is on display each and every game, and if Pelletier is skating with high skill players, he’s the type of guy who can elevate them to even loftier heights. Just check out this phenomenal setup to McMichael during the WJC.
There’s a reason why Pelletier racked up 0.8 assists per game in his QMJHL career. He isn’t limited to passing and playmaking, though. With a strong shot and soft hands, Pelletier can beat goalies from all over the offensive zone and has a number of incredible highlight reel goals on his resume, like this one.
So far, it may sound like Pelletier is a pure skill forward, but that’s not the case at all. Rounding out his skillset is a tenacity that makes him a legit threat in the dirty areas of the ice. Whether that’s in the corners battling defenders that are a foot taller than him or cleaning up garbage in front of the net, Pelletier never shies away from a battle and always works hard to finish plays.
The only real slight on Pelletier is his size. Standing at just 5’8″ and 170 lbs, he’s definitely a smaller forward and despite being a hard nosed player, he could get bullied by bigger, stronger NHLers especially in his first couple seasons in the league. Putting on a few more pounds and lowering his center of gravity will definitely help, but if his track record is any indication, Pelletier will learn how to succeed in the NHL very quickly.
What you can’t measure by statistics and numbers is Pelletier’s leadership qualities. He has worn a letter in each of his past three seasons, served as the captain in the previous two seasons, and was one of the players most looked up to in the WJC for Canada.
You can’t teach this stuff.
Pelletier’s next steps
With four seasons completed in the QMJHL, Pelletier will be playing professional hockey next season. In all likelihood he’ll start out with the Stockton Heat in the AHL, but with a strong camp there’s a chance he makes the Flames’ opening night roster. As it stands, the Flames should have a couple open spots at forward, and Pelletier could very well fill one of them.
Either way, you’d want to see Pelletier adapt quickly to the pro game and play well enough to either stay in the NHL or be one of the first call-ups from the Heat. If he doesn’t make the Flames’ opening night roster, he’ll have the chance to play big minutes for the Heat in all situations and likely be one of the go-to players on the team. My guess is he makes the opening night roster though; whether he plays past the nine game mark will be up to him.
With his high skill, high hockey IQ, blue collar work ethic, and standout leadership qualities, Pelletier checks all the boxes to be a fan favourite in Calgary. It might be just a matter of months before he regularly bears the flaming C on his chest. Jump on the hype train now because there are oodles of reasons to be excited about Pelletier.