In this post, I want to share some of the good news about prospects who are part of the Calgary Flames system. This week, the Flames announced that Dustin Wolf, Josh Nodler, and Jakob Pelletier were asked to attend summer camps held by their national teams that would allow them – if they’re successful – to participate in the 2021 World Junior Championships.
The World Juniors are scheduled to take place in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, starting the day after Christmas with the Gold Medal Game scheduled for January 5, 2021.
Item One: Dustin Wolf – The Steal of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft?
Dustin Wolf’s season was filled with accomplishments. If you haven’t heard about Wolf or know his background, he seems to have been a steal when the Flames chose him in the seventh round (214th overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft.
Over the past three seasons, he’s played 127 regular-season games for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips with an 88-31-6 record, a goals-against-average of 1.85 and a save percentage of .934. He’s also recorded 20 shutouts during his junior career, which is tied for fifth all-time in WHL history.
On May 1, 2020, the Flames signed the young goalie prospect to a three-year, entry-level contract. Just over two weeks later (May 19), he was named the WHL Goaltender of the Year. After such a great season, a post written by Flames writer Torie Peterson suggested it was simply “another day, another honor” for Wolf.
The accolades keep coming. This week, Wolf was asked to join Team USA’s World Junior Summer Showcase (in Plymouth, Michigan) from July 24-August 1, which will evaluate players ahead of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships. Wolf was also named the USA Hockey Dave Peterson Goalie of the Year and the CHL’s Goaltender of the Year.
That’s a ton of hardware for Wolf’s trophy case, but his body of work has been spectacular. Often goalies develop slowly but not Wolf. He’s been good from the start and has shown no signs of slowing down. As it stands, he is one of the best goalie prospects in minor hockey, and the Flames are fortunate to have him.
Item Two: Prospect Josh Nodler Joins Wolf on Team USA
Joining Wolf at the Team USA Showcase is Michigan-native Josh Nodler. Nodler just finished his freshman season at Michigan State University. The 19-year-old was drafted in the fifth round (150th overall) by the Flames in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Nodler played in all 36 games for the Spartans and scored eight points (three goals and five assists), and received the team’s Outstanding Rookie Award. Before attending Michigan State, the 5-foot-11 center played for the USHL’s Fargo Force. His best season was in 2018-19 when he scored 17 goals and 25 assists in 54 games. Nodler is one of 43 US players who were invited to the camp.
Item Three: Jakob Pelletier Invited to Hockey Canada’s “Virtual” Camp
Moving a bit further north, Wolf and Nodler were not the only Flames prospects asked to forego a summer vacation to play hockey. Nineteen-year-old forward Jakob Pelletier was invited to Hockey Canada’s roster for the upcoming “virtual” World Junior camp. Pelletier was a first-round draft choice by the Flames in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft (26th overall).
Related: 7 Cool Things About Johnny Gaudreau
Quebec City’s Pelletier just completed three great seasons with the Moncton Wildcats where he scored 61, 89, and 82 points respectively. Two weeks ago, he was traded to the Val-d’Or Foreurs for a series of draft picks. He was immediately named captain of the Foreurs.
Pelletier was chosen 3rd overall in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft and was an impact player from the moment he hit the ice. In 199 career regular-season and playoff games with the Wildcats, Pelletier scored 240 points. After only three seasons, he ranks 8th all-time in career points for the team and was named captain for his last season in 2019-20.
Team Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp will be held virtually from July 27-31 because Canadian COVID-19 restrictions prevent players and coaches from gathering in groups.
This isn’t Pelletier’s first invitation. However, a concussion prevented him from attending camp and the tournament in 2020. However, he’s still eligible for the World Juniors with a great chance of making the team. Only eight of Team Canada’s thirteen forwards from last winter’s team will return for this tournament, the rest are no longer eligible.
Pelletier has the skills to make the team, and because IIHF officiating is strict, being named the QMJHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player of the season could make a difference in a short tournament where penalties are called closely.
Item Four: Greg Moro Named Best Defenseman at Clarkson University
The 24-year-old Flames prospect Greg Moro was named the best defenseman at Clarkson University (a small liberal arts university in New York State). After four seasons with the Clarkson Golden Knights, he signed an AHL contract with the Stockton Heat in April.
It was the second season in a row that he was named Best Defenseman of the Year. Moro was also a finalist for the ECAC Defenseman of the Year. He finished his senior season with seven points (1 goal and 6 assists) and was an alternate captain. During his four-year career, he scored 20 points (5 goals and 15 assists) and helped lead the Golden Knights to the ECAC conference championship 2018-19.
Moro, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, played junior hockey with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos and the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats before heading east to play with Clarkson ahead of the 2016-17 season. He was part of Clarkson’s third-ranked NCAA defense, that only gave up 1.85 goals per game.
Moro is a rare right-shot, shutdown defenseman. At 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, he has the size and skills the Flames need in their system.
Assessing the Flames Prospects
In short, the Flames have four prospects coming through the ranks that might one day make the team’s roster. Goalie Wolf is a safe bet. At the same time, Pelletier’s had nothing but success wherever he’s played.
The jury’s still out on Nodler and Moro. Nodler is only 19 years old, so he’s growing. Moro has the size and has been solid wherever he’s played. He’s older, but Clarkson University has a strong program and he might have the experience he needs for success. How he does with the Heat this season will say a lot.