Flames take forward Pelletier at No. 26

VANCOUVER – Jakob Pelletier tried to stay calm Friday night as the Calgary Flames staff moved towards the draft stage.

The 18-year-old winger from Quebec City had spoken with the club earlier in the day and knew they were interested, but wasn’t sure if the Flames would actually take him with the 26th overall pick.

They did.

“I think it’s just amazing. It’s incredible. Just to get drafted, it’s a dream come true,” Pelletier said.

“I didn’t know if I was going to get picked tonight or tomorrow so I’m pretty proud to get drafted tonight.”

The five-foot-nine, 165-pound forward is coming off his second season with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats.

Last season, he tallied 39 goals and 89 points in 65 games after producing a point per game in his rookie campaign.

He has played internationally for Canada, suiting up in both the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the under-18 world championship.

Now Pelletier’s looking forward to joining the Flames, saying it’s a squad full of young talent and a place he can make his mark.

“I’m a small guy that’s going to play big,” he said. “I’m a competitor. I can create the offence and play some defensive role, too.”

Calgary has four other picks this year, starting with the 88th selection.

It’s a major difference from the 2018 event, where the Flames didn’t have a single pick in the first three rounds after trading multiple selections to New York Islanders for defenceman Travis Hamonic.

Despite the lack of picks, Calgary managed to grab headlines with a blockbuster trade.

Midway through day two of the draft, the Flames sent star defenceman Dougie Hamilton, forward Michael Ferland and prospect Adam Fox to the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Elias Lindholm and defenceman Noah Hanifin.

Lindholm went on to be the Flames’ third leading scorer this season, notching 27 goals and 51 assists in 78 games. Hanifin registered a career-high 33 points.

Calgary finished the year atop the Pacific Division but fizzled in the playoffs. The Colorado Avalanche ousted the team from round one in just five games.

The last time the Flames picked in the first round was 2017 when they took Juuso Valimaki 16th overall. The Finnish defenceman played 24 games for Calgary last season, tallying a goal and two assists.

Back in 2016, the Flames chose Matthew Tkachuk with their first-round pick, drafting the Scottsdale, Ariz., native sixth overall. The left winger has since become a crucial piece for Calgary, producing 34 goals and 43 assists last season.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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