Calgary Flames

It’s unfortunately time for the Calgary Flames to move on from Dillon Dube

The Calgary Flames have had a less-than-ideal start to the 2023–24 season. After things were supposed to be different this year, the Flames have fallen flat out of the gate on the way to a 2–4–1 start. There’s been a plethora of disappointing performances across the board so far, but one that stands out in particular is that of Dillon Dube.

One of the team’s longest-tenured players, Dube was coming off a career-best year with 45 points and it looked like he may finally be taking the next step. Instead he’s looked like regular old Dube so far this year, ineffective at even strength and failing to make his mark in the lineup or on special teams. So at this point, what should the Flames do with Dube?

Let’s take a look at how things have gone for Dube. All numbers are 5v5 score- and venue-adjusted, courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com.

Still waiting for Dube’s big jump

Now obviously Dube finally saw some real progression points-wise last season, but to that point, he really hadn’t shown much of anything to suggest he was on the verge of a breakout season despite earning that title seemingly every season.

His point and goal totals have remained firmly in the middle-six winger range the last few years, suggesting we may have already seen the best from Dube. Take a look at his totals the past four seasons and his rank among Flames forwards.

SeasonDillon Dube GoalsTeam rank among forwardsDillon Dube PointsTeam rank among forwards
2019–20610th169th
2020–21115th228th
2021–22185th327th
2022–23185th456th

Look, Dube has made obvious progress thus far in his career. His team rank among Flames forwards for points has quite literally gone up one spot every season. That’s the issue though, every year we wait for that big jump and it just never comes. At 25 years old, are we really still expecting a big jump after seeing such slow progression?

In particular, his goal totals have remained incredibly stagnant. He’s posted back-to-back 18-goal seasons but taking a deeper look at the shortened 2020–21 season he put up 11 goals in 51 games which is, you guessed it, an 18-goal pace. That’s three straight 18-goal seasons from Dube. Where is the progression? We’re still waiting for him to crack the 20 goals mark as he enters his sixth season in the league.

Even further to that last season, he was incredibly lucky to even hit 18 goals. Based on his expected goals he came well over that number at the end of the season. Take a look courtesy of hockeyviz.com. On average, he seems to have more observed goals than expected, where he doesn’t ever surpass the eight-goal threshold. Not a great sign.

Building off that is the fact that his career-high 24 5v5 assists last season came by way of 12 secondary assists. In other words, half of his assists were empty calories, furthering the point that he’s simply not a super impactful player offensively even during a career year.

It really suggests that last season was likely more of his ceiling as a player versus the sign of a big breakout season coming. We’ve been waiting for years for his big breakout year to come and here we are nearly eight years after he was drafted and we’re still waiting.

Dube doesn’t make an impact at 5v5

If there’s one thing that’s certain about Dube it’s that he has never been a strong play driver or impact player at 5v5. In fact, he’s been quite literally the opposite. Across his career thus far he has failed to make any progress when it comes to his impact at 5v5. Take a look below at his team rank among Flames forwards in some key metrics each year.

SeasonCF%
Team rank among forwards >500min. TOI
xGF%
Team rank among forwards >500min. TOI
HDCF%
Team rank among forwards >500min. TOI
2019–2011 of 1111 of 1111 of 11
2020–21*6 of 107 of 105 of 10
2021–227 of 107 of 106 of 10
2022–239 of 109 of 1010 of 10
The rank for the shortened 2020-21 season is among forwards >400min TOI

Some immediate numbers stand out. First of all Dube has ranked inside the top five for one of the above metrics just once over the past four years finishing fifth for HDCF% back in 2020–21. That’s actually quite an impressive level of consistent mediocrity.

Secondly Dube’s supposed mini breakout season last year was a disaster if we look at his 5v5 impact and was actually one of the worst of his whole career in terms of his underlying numbers. That should tell you all you need to know about Dube. Even when it looks like he may be chipping in offensively, it typically comes on the back of some truly dreadful numbers at 5v5.

At the other end of the ice, the store isn’t much different, as Dube has regularly been one of the Flames’ worst forwards defensively since joining the team full-time.

SeasonCA/60
Team rank among forwards >500min. TOI
xGA/60
Team rank among forwards >500min. TOI
HDCA/60
Team rank among forwards >500min. TOI
2019–2011 of 1110 of 119 of 11
2020–21*9 of 105 of 102 of 10
2021–226 of 1010 of 1010 of 10
2022–239 of 1010 of 1010 of 10

I mean, yikes. There has been just no progression here. Dube understandably struggled mightily in his first full NHL season in 2019–20, but here we are four seasons later and it seems we’re just running in place. He had a slight blip of progress during the shortened 2020–21 season, but the last two seasons he’s been arguably the team’s worst forward defensively. The Flames have historically not done well in their own zone with Dube on the ice, to say the least.

Dube’s rough start to 2023–24

As mentioned, Dube is coming off the best season of his career and this season was supposed to be his big breakout. Well, his 2023–24 season has been the opposite of a breakout as he has really struggled so far this season through seven games. Despite starting the season on the team’s top line for reasons unknown, Dube was quickly demoted after just two periods of play. It continues a common trend of Dube continually earning opportunities in the Flames’ top-six or power play and failing to build off the opportunity. A couple of weeks since the opening game and we’ve arrived at him skating on the team’s fourth line. Given his impact thus far courtesy of hockeyviz.com , it’s not surprising to see him fall down the lineup so quickly.

The Flames are getting crushed in their own zone with Dube on the ice and failing to generate much of anything at the other end. It’s been ugly.

It may be time to move on

With Dube’s contract expiring at the end of the season, the Flames may seriously need to consider moving on from Dube sooner rather than later. He’s kicked off the 2023–24 in disastrous fashion and is quickly proving last season was more likely an outlier and not a sign of a breakout. At this point in his career, it appears as though he’s already reached his peak offensively while continually struggling to make any positive impact at 5v5. At the end of the day, it may be more worthwhile for the Flames to move on from Dube and look to some younger players to fill the gap. Dube just hasn’t shown enough across five years to warrant a contract extension in Calgary.


Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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