TLN Draft Prospect Watch: Pierre-Luc Dubois

There seems to be a belief that Pierre-Luc Dubois is someone
who has gone skyrocketing up the draft charts throughout the season, and that
CHL Top Prospect was the call to arms to start giving Dubois the attention he
deserves. Really, it’s just been a couple of rankings like Craig Button’s
(Dubois has gone from 21st in September to 4th in March)
and Future Considerations (20 spot jump from September to October) that didn’t
have him in their top 15 to begin the year.

Dubois is now ranked 4th overall by 3 of the 9
rankings used in the TLN Consolidated Rankings which still have him 6th
overall. Craig Button, Draft Buzz Hockey, and Hockeyprospect.com all have him
as the best option after the Finns, while a couple of others have him at 9th
to balance that out.

Like Tkachuk, Nylander, Laine and Puljujarvi, Dubois is
making the case for taking skilled wingers at the top of the draft as the
safest bet after Matthews. It also seems as we’re getting closer to June the
winger with the greatest momentum is Dubois, so let’s find out why he’s so well
liked.

By the Numbers

Alright, the argument for Dubois is extremely simple, and
speaks to the most fundamental part of the game. Dubois scores goals and puts
up points. Here’s a very telling table speaking to that…

duboisstats

Dubois for the most part was chasing down Conor Garland for
most of the season, and as far as his draft class goes, Vitali Abramov and
Julien Gauthier were his stiffest competition.

Where Dubois differs from a prospect like Tkachuk, is that
Pierre was far and away his team’s leader in points. With a 20 point advantage
and 9 goal advantage over the next closest players on his team, there isn’t the
same doubts about who was responsible for generating the offense.

What He Does Well…

Dubois may be the next best thing to Patrik Laine and Jesse
Puljujarvi if a team is disappointed they missed out on the Finns. He has
similarities to Laine when it comes to being a creative power forward with
strong finishing abilities. And he has a bit more of Puljujarvi’s defensive
zone responsibility.

Dubois can also draw some similarities to Tkachuk in that
none of his abilities stand out as the best in his draft class, but it’s in his
ability to use his above average abilities well that makes him one of the top
prospects in 2016.

Drawbacks

One of the downsides has to be that like Laine, his skating
isn’t high end and certainly wouldn’t even be up to the level of Laine’s. He
has the long stride, but nothing about his abilities here are remarkable.

And like Puljujarvi, Dubois isn’t overly physical with his
6’3, 200 lb frame. He’s by no means timid, but there might be more of a
learning curve to the NHL with Dubois than maybe you’d see with Tkachuk or
Laine.

What others are
saying about him…

From NHL.com

“Scouts like Dubois’ skill, smarts
and size, and see him as a solid all-around player. He’s not physical, but that
aspect of his game may come as he physically matures. He has the makings of a
top-six forward in the NHL who can play in any situation.

“Not the best in
any category but capable in every category,” said an NHL scout who has
observed Dubois.

Dubois said he likes
to study the game of Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn. Benn is
listed at 6-2 and 210 pounds, so there’s a similar build to Dubois.”

From the Red Line Report:

“At Red Line, we would agree Dubois
doesn’t catch your eye with a blazing stride, but he is above average in a
straight line and stops and starts effectively for a teenager who hasn’t yet
flled out his bottom half. By all accounts, it was that slightly sub-par leg
strength that contributed to him winding up just on the wrong side of the line
at Canada’s world junior camp. He survived the frst round of cuts, but didn’t
make it through the fnal cull. He was the youngest player invited to try out.”

Does He Make Sense
For the Leafs?

It’s the same wing story for the Leafs, if you’ve been
reading some of the other draft profiles on TLN. Dubois would undoubtedly be
one of, if not the top winger prospect on the Leafs, a team in the need of more
offense, but if there is a position of strength in the Leafs organization it’s
probably the wing.

Dubois also lacks the organizational ties that Tkachuk and
Alexander Nylander have to the Leafs. He would be coming in solely on his
merits, which is perfectly fine, but given the organizational need for a center
or defenseman, it’s hard to ignore that Chychrun or McLeod would be more
appealing options if neither Finn is available.

Conclusion

A blend of size and skill is hard to pass up and it’s likely
that Dubois won’t be waiting long to hear his name called because of it. Dubois
is by most accounts pretty close to being NHL ready, and that’s going to help
teams looking for a quick turnaround more than it is going to help a team like
Toronto that is wanting to take a methodical rebuild approach, so if you take
some of that readiness appeal away from Dubois, it looks like there are better
options.

With his talent, you’d still hope that Dubois doesn’t end up
in your division if you do pass on him.

  • glgbill

    The more I read about these other prospects at #4, the more it appears that the leafs should trade down. Even Mcleod is being deployed as a checking center in the u18 league. That’s a concern that he can’t even be given the #1 role in that tourney.

    They all have warts and big question marks and so an additional asset along with one of these players at 4 to 10 could work if the leafs get the 4th pick.

  • glgbill

    You got to think that the incredible results of Dubois’ performance suggests that he’s beyond capable of manufacturing his own shots, passes, openings, etc. Perhaps it’s the quality of the league, but the gap between the QMJHL and the rest of the CHL isn’t much different any more.

    I will say this much — if his skating is correctable (see Gauthier), then there isn’t much to worry about if he’s available at #4. And by the sounds of it, he seems like a great pick there.

      • So who’s the best player on that line? Because Svechnikov has never had a season on Dubois’ level. Even if you project Svechnikov’s numbers to the same games played as Dubois, he’d be one point behind.

        He’s also a year older. Nothing suggests that Svechnikov was the line’s best player.

        • There is more to performance than point totals.
          Yes he’s a year older, and probably isn’t as good a prospect but that doesn’t mean Svechnikov wasn’t better for parts of the season.
          It’s the same as Dvorak/Tkachuk, Dvorak was better all year, but that doesn’t make him the better prospect.

  • Dubois played center more than he played wing so calling him a left winger is not at all accurate. For example he took 843 faceoffs in 62 games. That’s 13.5 faceoffs/game. Wingers don’t do that typically.

    Secondly, Dubois has been improving by leaps and bounds. His first 25 games he scored 30 pts. His remaining 37 games he scored 69 pts. That’s right up there with Dylan Strome in his draft year. And as you mentioned he carried his team.

    He has NHL size and strength already and can play center or left wing. That kind of sits well with Marner and Nylander who can play center or right wing.

  • Cape Breton Screaming Eagles fan here. I’ve been to about 36 games this year and I would have to say that Dubois was our best player by far. He blocks shots and kills penalties. He even generates a bunch of scoring chances while shorthanded.

  • glgbill

    NHL Central Scouting has Dubois as number 1 North American, so what is wrong with drafting a Canadian?

    At 6’3 and the way he uses his size and great skating to protect the puck, his genius hockey IQ, and great % in the face-off, he is as much a natural center as a power forward.
    Like Asplund, as a player who dominates at both ends, and plays all forward positions, he is a coach’s dream.
    The Leafs have no big forwards (prospects), neither winger nor center, something Babcock and Lamerello will not tolerate anymore.
    It is turning into the 1st 2, generational talent Laine and franchise center Matthews, then the next pair, 6’3 two-way NHL-ready forwards Puljujarvi and Dubois

  • silentbob

    “that’s going to help teams looking for a quick turnaround more than it is going to help a team like Toronto that is wanting to take a methodical rebuild approach, so if you take some of that readiness appeal away from Dubois, it looks like there are better options”

    Actually, right now, I think this is right where Toronto is. I don’t think Shanahan and company want to spend another 3-2, or even 1 year in the basement. If Stamkos becomes a UFA I think they’ll go hard after him in part of an attempt to get out of the basement. While we’ll see 5 or 6 rookies on the roster at the start of the year, I wouldn’t be surprised if they also bring in a couple veterans to help them along AND make the team better.

    I think their goal next year will be to compete for a playoff spot.

    And its GOOD that this is their plan/goal (if it is). Any team can draft early and draft well, but doing that alone doesn’t = becoming a competitive team. Teams need to add some veterans, fill other others and make that switch from rebuilding to competitive. The Leafs have done a good job of assembling young talent, Rielly, Nylander, Marner and ? could/should be a solid core of young talent to build a winner on.

  • Gary Empey

    How can anyone in their right mind say the reason we don’t want to draft someone is because they are NHL ready?

    MatsSundin#13…. Not likely at first overall but both Dubois and Tkachuk could end up in the top three.

    Personally I am putting forwards Puljujarvi, Laine, Dubois, and Tkachuk almost in a dead heat for 2nd overall.