International Ice Hockey Federation

Holding his head high

Holding his head high

Omission gives Dubois motivation

Published 25.04.2017 09:17 GMT-4 | Author Dhiren Mahiban
Holding his head high
Pierre-Luc Dubois represented Canada at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. Photo: Francois Laplante / HHOF-IIHF Images
Being left off of Canada’s roster for the 2016 World Juniors was all the motivation Pierre-Luc Dubois needed for the second half of the 2015/16 season.

Dubois, a forward with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, finished his second season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 42 goal 99 points in 62 regular season games.

He added seven goals and five assists in 12 postseason games.

Dubois helped Canada win gold at last year’s Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and was one of just two 17-year-olds invited to the selection camp, which took place in December in Toronto.

“It was huge motivation for me,” he said. “I came back to Cape Breton wanting to dominate and prove to [Hockey Canada] that I could've made the team. When I came back [to junior] I think that's exactly what I did.”

Dubois’ solid second half of the season also saw his stock rise for the upcoming NHL Draft.

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec native was seventh on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, but climbed to first overall amongst North American skaters in the final ranking.

One area of his game, which helped his draft stock, is his ability to play all three forward positions. Dubois, a winger, moved to centre after Christmas, and now feels he’s capable of playing all three forward positions.

“I played centre how, when I was a winger, I wanted my centre to play,” Dubois said. “I tried to talk to my wingers, I asked questions with the guys I played with, what they liked, I talked to my defencemen too so I learned a lot from that position this year.

“I played wing my entire life so I'm used to wing and now centre, I think it's a new position, but in the future I think I could play centre too.”

Described as a power forward, Dubois is expected to be selected within the top five on June 24 in Buffalo. ISS Hockey has Dubois ranked fifth in its draft guide while The Hockey News ranked him as the fifth-best prospect in its Top-100 prospect rankings.

“No. 1, he brings that ability where he can play all three forward positions and he brings a complete game. There isn't one area of his game where he's not good,” said Dann Marr, the Director of NHL Central Scouting. “There's no missing or weak link. He's a powerful kid with his size and strength; he's an NHL skater with speed and quickness. He's got the elite hockey sense, he's got the puck skills to be a scorer and he's one of those players, he has that intangible that he knows what needs to be done, he goes out on the ice whether it's to protect a lead, generate scoring chances, to check and shutdown another team's scoring line - just to play defence.

“He gets it. He's the type of player that coaches love to have to them on their team.”

Dubois has drawn comparisons to Jamie Benn, and to those who know the teen well, it should come as no surprise since Dubois tries to model his game after the Dallas Stars’ captain.

In order to play in the NHL next season though, Dubois knows he has work to do.

“I think if I can get a little bit more explosive, I'm good at puck protection on the boards so if I can get to open areas, open ice a little bit faster, I think I could be even better,” he said. “I think I'm very smart, I'm reliable defensively, good without the puck, offensively I can pass the puck, I can play any position too.”

Those who’ve played against him understand why he’s such a highly touted prospect for this year’s draft.

Julien Gauthier, expected to be a late first-round pick, had many battles on the ice with Dubois when his Val-d’Or Foreurs met the Screaming Eagles.

“Good hockey sense, good shooter, can pass the puck, he can play very well and he's got a knack for the net,” Gauthier said. “When he sees a hole, he can shoot it in the net.”

In order to have success at the next level, as a center, Dubois will need to improve on his efficiency in the face-off circle. He’ll also need to work on his first step quickness.

Despite the room for improvement, there’s no doubt in Marr’s mind on whether Dubois will have success at the next level.

“We don't see any perceived weaknesses in his game,” he said. “I just think with experience and maturity, he's going to get his opportunities to play in the National Hockey League sooner than most. If he's ready, then he's ready. The NHL club that draft's him will determine that.

“This is a high-character player. When we speak of high-character players, you know, they always find their way, and find their spot into a lineup.”

And if he doesn’t make the NHL straight away there’s still a chance to see him on NHL ice soon. Dubois is among the 41 players named to Canada’s national junior team’s summer camp where he will be evaluated for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship on home ice in Montreal and Toronto.


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