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Year of the Cat; Pelletier claimed by Calgary in 2019 NHL Entry Draft

Aaron Bell/CHL Images

Jakob Pelletier had to overcome his share of adversity throughout the 2018-19 season. That perseverance was rewarded on Friday night when the Moncton Wildcats winger was selected 26th overall by the Calgary Flames at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, BC.

The third overall pick of the Wildcats in the 2017 QMJHL Draft, Pelletier missed the pre-season due to an injury sustained at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August. The 18-year-old from Quebec City, Quebec did not miss a beat, finishing second on the club and seventh overall in the league with 89 points, including 39 goals, in 65 games. After suffering an ankle injury during the postseason, he nonetheless returned to help the Wildcats upset the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in a thrilling seven-game series during round one. He finished the playoffs with three points in seven games while being forced into a limited role.

Pelletier’s first round NHL Entry Draft selection is the reward for two seasons of superlative play in the “Q”. A tenacious 200-foot presence who has consistently shown maturity and savvy, particularly when the puck is on his stick, Pelletier made an impression during his first year at the junior level, registering 61 points in 60 regular season games while being named to the league’s Rookie All-Star Team. He becomes the fourth player in Wildcats franchise history to be chosen in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. The last Cat to walk up to the stage was defenseman Brandon Gormley, who was selected 13th overall by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2010. He is the 28th player from the organization to be taken in the draft and the first that has gone to Calgary.

The Flames have now selected seven players in the first round of the NHL Draft from the “Q” since the franchise was founded in Atlanta back in 1972. QMJHL drafted players that have played a key role in Flames history include Guy Chouinard (second round, 1974), Sandy McCarthy (third round, 1991), Denis Gauthier (first round, 1995), Steve Begin (second round, 1996) and Matthew Lombardi (third round, 2002). This marks the third straight year that a QMJHL player has been chosen by the Flames, following Rimouski Oceanic winger Dimitry Zavgorodniy (seventh round, 2018) and former Baie-Comeau Drakkar center D’Artagnan Joly (sixth round, 2017).

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