The Montreal Canadiens have some pressing needs to fill when they draft at ninth overall this year. If they can get a player who figures to be able to fill one of those needs right away, all the better. One of those needs is scoring depth, particularly on the wing, and Pierre-Luc Dubois could end up being one of the few NHL-ready players in the draft.
Some may consider his name and place of origin as cause for consternation. The last time that the Habs took a Québecois player with their first-round pick, it was Louis Leblanc, and that didn't work out for them so well. But Dubois looks to be the real deal, and concerns over extra pressure being put on him due to his heritage shouldn't muddy the waters when it comes to his potential.
Birthplace: Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Québec
Height: 6'3" Weight: 203lbs
He is coming off a 99-point season for Cape Breton in the QMJHL, more than double his total from the previous year with the same team.
Forty-one of his 57 assists were primary, so he was truly the catalyst for production when he was on the ice. Also, he only scored 10 of his 42 goals on the power play, so he's doing most of his heavy lifting at even strength. Simply put, he's putting up fantastic numbers.
It is very hard to find a deficiency in his game. He is an excellent skater, very physical in puck battles, and has an uncanny nose for the net. He also has a very solid 200-foot game, playing just as well in his own end as he does at the other end of the ice. He is as complete a player as you could possibly ask an 18-year-old to be.
His ceiling is that of an elite defensive forward who also has a ton of offensive upside. He could even be a future Selke candidate, although that's a lofty expectation for any prospect, so we're best off tempering our projections.
I saw him a couple more times since our last ranking, he continues to impress both myself and our QMJHL based scout Jerome Berube. I also went back and watched his points from all his games going back into mid November. It was impressive to watch. One of the more ‘NHL ready’ players in this year’s draft class. When he’s physically ready he will make the jump, because I think other than getting a bit stronger, he could play tomorrow.
A phenomenal two-way power forward that thrives under pressure. He brings versatility, being able to play as a center or a winger, as well as elite skill and agility. His athleticism is exemplified in his strong skating that allows him to backcheck hard, explode up the ice in-transition, or propel himself up into hits that opponents won't soon forget. His defensive zone play is excellent; he proactively finds and takes away shooting and passing lanes, and makes it tough on opponents to pinpoint any daylight.
When he is on the ice, he is uncontainable and leads the forecheck; he creates the time and space for himself to be creative with the puck and finds a way to get it to the back of the net. He makes the players around him better, serving as an example of what hard work and skill can and will be able to produce. A similarly punishing two-way forward with size and zero deficiencies, Anze Kopitar, is the type of player Dubois will aspire to become at the next level.
Pierre-Luc Dubois has the potential to develop into an elite two-way forward that excels as a positive catalyst in every facet of the roles he can play, be it the dynamic scorer, the set-up man, the intimidating power forward, or the defensive-minded shutdown guy. He is the type of player nobody likes to play against.
Future Considerations: 6th
Central Scouting service: 1st (North American skaters)
Draft Buzz Hockey: 4th
Bob McKenzie: 5th
Draft Analysis: 17th
If he's available at ninth overall, which is unlikely, you absolutely take Dubois and run like you just robbed a bank. He's a proven scorer with size that can play up the middle or on the left side. He is basically the exact player the Habs need right now, and he could realistically be in the lineup next season.
The harsh reality is that if they do want Dubois, which almost any team would, it will probably require them to move up at least a few positions, probably to fourth or fifth overall. The cost of doing that might be well worth it though, as this is a player who figures to be all but guaranteed to become a successful NHLer.
At this year's draft, NHL-ready talent is only going to come in those first four, maybe five picks.If the Habs can move up high enough to get Dubois without giving up too much, I sincerely doubt anyone will fault them, because they'd be getting one heck of a player.
And it would have nothing to do with where he's from. This is a player that could possible enter the conversation for first overall if not for some very big names ahead of him.