Dove-McFalls looking to lead Saint John in 2015-16

By Tony Androckitis
Samuel Dove-McFalls - Philadelphia Flyers - 2015 NHL Draft

Photo: Saint John Sea Dogs forward and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Samuel Dove-McFalls was one of five forwards chosen by the Flyers at the 2015 NHL Draft (courtesy of Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

 

The last five weeks have been quite the experience for Samuel Dove-McFalls. The Saint John Sea Dogs’ forward was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft last month, then attended the Flyers’ annual development camp in the middle of July.

Heading into his third season of junior hockey in the QMJHL, he’s looking to take the next step in his career and begin to carve out his path towards professional hockey, and ultimately, the NHL.

“It’s going by pretty fast,” Dove-McFalls said of his summer so far. “Lots of stuff happening and it’s all a little bit confusing since the draft. It’s been a really good experience so far this week [at Development Camp] so I’m pretty happy.”

While the Flyers have several smallish-type forwards in their system, the addition of Dove-McFalls gives the organization some more size up front. He was noticeably bigger than most of his peers taking part in the Flyers’ Development Camp at The Skate Zone in Vorhees, New Jersey.

Dove-McFalls is likely to return to Saint John for the 2015-16 season, so his main focus at the mid-summer camp is to add to his hockey knowledge.

“It’s all about learning and developing as a player and as a person,” Dove-McFalls said, adding, “I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing at practice so far. I’ve learned a lot of new aspects of the game. I’ve been working on it and I think it’s helping a lot.”

With Saint John last season – his second year of junior hockey – Dove-McFalls more than tripled his offensive production from his rookie year and continued to be a strong penalty killer – an asset that he hopes will pave his way into a bottom-six role in the NHL in the near future.

“I think I’m a reliable, two-way center that’s pretty versatile,” Dove-McFalls said when asked about his style of play. “I can also be used on the wing and just be used in all kinds of different situations and be relied upon no matter what.”

Those who have seen Dove-McFalls play in the QMJHL say he not only kills penalties, but creates quality chances shorthanded, as well. He hasn’t quite exploded offensively yet, but Dove-McFalls has two more years of junior eligibility and will continue to use his size to his advantage. As for what Dove-McFalls is looking to work on, it’s pretty much on par with most other forwards of his stature.

“[Skating] explosiveness, stickhandling – I can keep working on it,” Dove-McFalls said. “The skill part of the game is something I can work on.”

Dove-McFalls’ second season in the QMJHL with the Sea Dogs started off well, but as a team they struggled down the stretch after the trade of their captain, Olivier LeBlanc, and having their star goaltender Sebastien Auger go down with an injury.

“We started off as a team really well,” Dove-McFalls said of last season with Saint John. “Toward the second half we struggled a bit more. We were a young team. I think a lot of the guys got tired and weren’t used to the long season.”

While the young team struggled, Dove-McFalls emerged as a leader as he was named an assistant captain in the second half of the season. With the team’s most recent captain, Mark Tremaine, having graduated from junior hockey, Dove-McFalls should be a sure-fire candidate to take over the captaincy this upcoming season.

“Personally, I think I improved a lot as the year went on,” Dove-McFalls explained. “I took on a bigger leadership role in the second half, so it was a good season for me.”

While Dove-McFalls was excited to be drafted and be a part of the Flyers organization at their NHL development camp in July, he’s still primed for the task at hand when he returns to Saint John next month.

“We had 7 guys drafted in the draft this year,” Dove-McFalls noted. “Obviously, there will be big expectations for next year. We want to win the President’s Cup. We want to make it to the Memorial Cup. That’s a big season coming up for us and we all have to come ready to camp in August.”

Follow Tony Androckitis on Twitter via @H_P_Hockey