When it comes to selecting undersized prospects in the mid-to-late rounds, the Montreal Canadiens have had some serious success in the past. Considering that, they may well have their eye on Dillon Dube for their later second-round pick, or perhaps as a sleeper in the third round.
Dube is coming off a season where he showed considerable improvement in the WHL, scoring at just over a point-per-game pace in just his second season. He's definitely a project player, but he has some intriguing assets that make him worth a look once the draft gets out of the first round.
Birthplace: Golden, British Columbia
Height: 5'10" Weight: 183lbs
His first season with the Kelowna Rockets was lacklustre, putting up just 27 points through 45 games played. The following year, he more than doubled that total with 66 points through 65 games, earning himself some consideration for this year's NHL draft.
Of his 26 goals, 20 were scored at even strength. Of his 40 assists, 27 were primary. So he wasn't a passenger, and he did his heavy lifting at five-on-five. This wasn't an anomaly, he showed legitimate improvement in pretty much every possible way. This is what put him on the scouting radar, and it should be interesting to see what he does in the WHL next year.
Like many smaller players, he creates offence thanks to his skating. He has great acceleration, and he is very shifty once he gets to top speed. Very dangerous off the rush thanks to that skating, as well as solid vision and passing.
Size is the biggest thing working against him, and while I'd usually downplay such concerns, with him they are legitimate. He doesn't drive the net very much, and can get pushed around a little too easily in his own zone. If he wants to be an NHL player, he definitely needs to try and get stronger.
As an example, he should look no further than another former undersized scorer from the WHL; Brendan Gallagher. There is no question that Dube can create offence, but he'll need to be able to bring a similar style of game to succeed in the NHL.
Dube is a player that possesses special offensive talent. Very good speed and acceleration. Nifty and elusive on his edges. Good hands, and very good vision with the puck in the offensive zone, gives and receives passes well. Is most dangerous off the rush. Has the ability to change a game. D/zone play needs work, lacks structure. Struggles with consistency, not willing to drive the net or get engaged in puck battles. Gets himself into trouble when he tries to play bigger than what he is capable of. Has some real upside but he seems high risk.
Dube is a noticeable energizer bunny from start to finish. He has a smaller frame, but he is fairly filled out and sturdy along the walls. The best part of his game is his consistent speed and relentless forward-thinking attitude. He is very explosive and creates a lot of speed in the blink of an eye. He can blow past defensemen off the rush and does not hesitate to take the puck to the net. He makes WHL defenders look like pylons at times with his energetic bursts. Dube is effective using his feet to push through small holes in the defense, taking himself to prime scoring areas.
He has a nice release and accuracy on his wrist shot, looking to pick corners from inside the circle. He displays his vision stopping up at the half-wall before hitting the tape of his teammates through traffic as they go to the net. Dube has the puck skill to beat a defender in a one-on-one situation with a subtle, but lightning-quick, deke. His fast stick also serves him well in the defensive zone and board play, where he is constantly getting in battles for the puck. He is a little small yet, but likes to play a brash, physical game. He shows great work ethic as he recognizes a need defensively and drives back hard into the defensive zone to help defend any odd-man rushes. We like his drive, speed, smarts and skill as he packs a good two-way punch for a smaller forward.
Future Considerations: 46th
NHL Central Scouting: 41st (North American skaters)
He could be an interesting option for a team possessing a later second-round pick, but to take him any earlier would be a big gamble. If he slides into the third round, which seems very plausible, that's where you'd be getting the best value thanks to his solid offensive upside.
For the Canadiens, I wouldn't use either of those second-round picks they hold on him. Maybe the 45th overall, but even at that position I think there will be preferable options. If he manages to slide to 69th overall, then I think the Habs should give him a serious look.
There is definite offensive upside here, and if he keeps on the upward trend of point production in the WHL, he could easily be looked at as a steal down the road. There is no reason to say that he cannot have future success in the NHL, but the simple fact is that he should be a later second round pick.
He definitely has potential. As Canadiens fans are well aware, undersized WHL scorers can develop into excellent NHL players.