The Calgary Flames have quietly had a knack for picking really good players in the seventh round lately, having taken Ilya Solovyov and Dustin Wolf in recent years. It looks like they may have something quite good in Cade Littler, who has a lot of positive attributes to his game. Let’s look closer at his game
One of the youngest players in the draft this year, Littler turns 18 today (July 12), but stands 6’3″ and weighs in just over 200 pounds. Young but definitely not small.
Instead of playing in the WHL, Littler is taking the NCAA route, playing in the BCHL before heading to the University of Minnesota-Mankato in a couple years. Because of the pandemic, Littler has had only one full season in the league, which has definitely impacted his development. Here are his full numbers over the last three seasons.
|2019–20||Phoenix Jr Coyotes 15U AAA||T1EHL 15U||14||2||6||8||0|
|2019–20||Wenatchee Wilderness 16U AAA||16U AAA||55||46||44||90||24|
|2019–20||Wenatchee Wilderness 16U AAA||ECEL 16U||17||14||13||27||0|
|2020–21||US National U17 Team||USDP||3||0||0||0||0|
|2020–21||Phoenix Jr Coyotes||T1EHL 16U||17||8||8||16||2|
Despite missing most of the 2020–21 year with the pandemic ongoing, the product of Wenatchee had an excellent draft season, finishing second on his team in points behind a player two years older than him. Wenatchee finished seventh in the BCHL’s Interior Conference, with a 22–26–5 record, and lost in seven games to Salmon Arm in the playoffs. Littler ended with four goals and five assists in the seven games, tied for first on the team.
This season, Littler played in all situations, scoring goals on the power play and even potting a few shorthanded. According to Tod Button, the Flames’ director of scouting, Littler plays a reliable two-way game and is a centre, which is always an asset in this league. While he did note that Littler is a few years away, most projections have his ceiling as a reliable middle-six two-way centre, although this is a prospect with a very long runway.
Littler’s next steps
The Wenatchee-native will play one more season with the Wild of the BCHL next year. Barely 18, one more season in the league will do wonders for his growth, allowing him to go into the NCAA with some real swagger. This season he finished sixth in points among U18 skaters and 43rd overall in the league, but expect him to push up the charts next year.
From there, Littler will join the Minnesota State-Mankato hockey program in 2023–24, and will play there for his college career. A powerhouse program, the team has made the league playoffs every years since 1996–97, won the league four times since then, and made it to the NCAA’s Frozen Four eight times, including in four of the last five seasons (the fifth being the year that it was cancelled due to the Pandemic).
The Flames have a strong connection to this program, having signed Walker Duehr and Connor Mackey out of Mankato in the last few years. It is also where former Flames Tyler Pitlick and Tim Jackman played their college careers. The hope is that Littler will join this list.
However, it won’t be an easy transition. Putting up nearly a point-per-game in the BCHL is one thing, but translating that into success at the NCAA level is a very different thing. The Flames believe he can go through that transition successfully, but know it will be a long road to get there. He is a very raw prospect, but if he can build on his foundation, Littler is one to keep an eye on for sure.