The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.
Unfortunately, the 2015-16 season was cut short for the Vancouver Canucks, which means we have a long offseason ahead of us. Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the time to prepare next season’s roster, and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will certainly play an important part in that process.
Vancouver started off strong in the fall of 2015 but ended the season with a thud. Thanks to their abysmal 28th rank in the league standings, the Canucks own seven picks early in each round. Benning did a great job in his first two years at the job and another successful draft could certainly help boost the rebuild.
Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming event by profiling as many draft-eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.
Today we are taking a look at one of the biggest first-round risers — and No. 1 North American skater — Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
Name: Pierre-Luc Dubois
Position: Left Wing/Centre
Height, weight: 6’3”, 201 lbs
Team/League: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, QMJHL
Stats (from eliteprospects.com):
NHL CSS Ranking: 1st (North American Skaters)
Risk, Reward: 1.5/5, 4.5/5
NHL-potential: First-Line Forward
Draft Range: Top 10
"A dexterous and driven competitor that has all the makings of a dynamic two-way winger. Not the most electric skater, but is shifty and plays to the extent of his physical capabilities; he knows his limits and plays within them, which facilitates a student-like approach to the growth of his game. Possesses high hockey-IQ and is consistent in his efforts. Not the most physical player, but is when he needs to be. All-in-all, Dubois is an invaluable all-around player who plays in all situations and exceeds expectations when the opportunity arises. (Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects 2016)"
Pierre-Luc Dubois is a big, powerful forward who excels at both ends of the ice. He is one of the most complete forwards in his class.
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If you are looking for one standout attribute in Dubois’s game, you will be disappointed. What stands out about him is the fact that he has a large variety of skills he is equally good at. Speaking of versatility, Dubois switched to centre this season and was equally successful there.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds, Dubois is a dominating forward who uses his size and skill to keep the puck away from opponents. He is a fierce competitor who battles hard in all areas and does not rest until he succeeds.
Dubois has a lethal shot but can also set up plays thanks to great hockey IQ, vision and passing skills. His 42 points and 57 assists in 62 contests prove just that.
Dubois’s defensive play is hardly worse than what he does on offence. Great defensive awareness, positioning and a high compete level form the Quebec native into a terrific two-way player.
For a player of Dubois’s frame, missing physicality is a bit of a weakness. Now, missing physicality does not mean he can’t be physical, he just isn’t nearly as physical as he could and should be with his frame. He hits when he needs to, but doesn’t do it as much as he could.
Dubois could be an extremely skilled, high-scoring version of Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic. The way he plays now reminds more of Nashville Predators winger James Neal. If he adds a tad physicality and grit to his game, he could be something in between.
A second weakness is his skating. That, however, seems to be mostly due to his frame. Big players often have skating issues, but Dubois skates well for a player of his size. The one thing he can and should improve on is his explosiveness.
Pierre-Luc Dubois went from a player in the 15 range of most draft rankings to being the No. 1 ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting’s list. Since Euro forwards Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Puljujarvi are the consensus top-three selections and Dubois has more competition coming after that, he ranges from four to seven on rankings today.
If the Vancouver Canucks win one of the lottery picks, they probably shouldn’t consider drafting Dubois. If they fall out of the top three, however, Dubois will be a terrific option with any top-10 pick.
Despite being a big and very complete player, Dubois will likely get another year of development in junior. But, he should certainly get a nine-game tryout in the NHL to start the season to see what he can do.