Way, way back in 2013, the Calgary Flames selected Sean Monahan in the first round at sixth overall. At the time it wasn’t considered the sexiest pick, but Monahan was the best player left of the top group and he’s turned out to be the player the Flames needed at that spot.
In 2014, the Flames got their highest pick since moving to Calgary, completing their “Sham for Sam” season by selecting Sam Bennett at fourth overall. He was not the sexiest pick, but was the best player remaining of the top group and somehow fell to them despite being the top-ranked North American skater that season.
Combine the circumstances of Monahan and Bennett, and you might get Pierre-Luc Dubois, the latest player in our First Round Targets series.
THE SCOUTING REPORTS
One common thread amongst the scouting reports we surveyed? Dubois is really, really good.
Dubois is a coaches dream; a big, rangy forward who can succeed in any
role asked of him. He is a strong forchecker and defensibly responsible
player who plays the entire ice sheet, not just offense. He is hard to
contain when he goes on the offensive attack due to his strength,
skating ability and puck protection. He is also that guy who hunts down
the puck with dogged determination when he loses it. Like to play in
traffic and goes to the net. Has a strong shot and can set-up his
teammates with well-timed passes. A complete all-round prospect with
very high upside.- November 2015
The folks at Red Line Report did a spotlight on Dubois back in January that provided some context on his dual positional role:
His move to centre this season has taken his game to new heights. He’s got the size, hands, hockey sense, and creativity to become a true #1 centre in the NHL. Add in his dedication to getting better, mental make-up, and willingness to compete hard on every shift in all three zones, and he’s a fairly wart-proof prospect. The only minor pitfall is that he lacks first step explosion and a separation gear at the top end in his stride right now – but he is working on it diligently.
Naturally a left wing, Dubois made the switch to centre full-time late
in the season and played strictly down the middle by the time the
playoffs rolled around. Despite his size and strength, Dubois hasn’t
quite developed into a strong faceoff man but his net drive and
versatility as a playmaker and a finisher have made him a viable option
to remain a centre at the pro level.
Wheeler concluded: “At the next level, he has one of the more translatable NHL games in the
class and projects to be a real scoring threat with versatility at two
different forward positions and a strong-two way dimension.”
The ability to translate his game to the NHL, along with his size advantage, is something that would be really useful to most clubs.
Dubois’ career stats, via Elite Prospects:
Dubois is one of the younger players in his draft class, turning 18 on the date of the first round (June 24). He’s in his second year in the QMJHL and has amassed the trifecta of Hockey Canada experiences (U17, U18 and Hlinka) that a youngster can accumulate.
As a sophomore in the Q, he had pretty impressive numbers. He was in on 99 of Cape Breton’s 286 goals and 65 of their 203 even strength goals. More impressively, he was third in the QMJHL in primary points (both at even strength and overall) and the two players that were ahead of him were two years older.
Dubois was fairly consistent offensively all season, going without a point for three straight games twice but otherwise puttering along nicely. A word of caution may be advised in terms of his production, which tilted heavily towards home dates (63 of 99 points) and wins (80 of 99 points). The home aspect points to him needing some favourable match-ups to produce, but the win thing probably isn’t an issue – he beats up on the opposition when he’s “on.” I’d be more concerned if he had a ton of points in losses, to be honest. (It’s the old “But where were you when the games mattered?” question.)
Cape Breton was one of the Q’s better offensive teams, and they tended to win track meets – they weren’t great defensively. But if you’re concerned about Dubois being a French-Canadian Greg Nemisz, don’t be too worried. He’s big and he was a huge driving force behind his club’s offense with his numbers tilted heavily towards even strength and primary point production.
And look where he shoots from: the “dirty areas” of the mid-to-low slot.
I’d be a tiny bit concerned about Dubois’ discipline – he had over 100 penalty minutes this season and got a late-season suspension – but the context surrounding the incidents suggests that he’s a big kid that’s just figuring out how damn big and physical he can be. With a bit of coaching and coaxing, it probably shouldn’t be an issue.
FIT FOR THE FLAMES
Dubois is a big, physical player that has the versatility to play up the middle or on the wing, and has the raw talent to put up a ton of goals. If he stays on the left side, then the Flames suddenly have a bounty of promising young wingers (Dubois, Gaudreau, Poirier, Shinkaruk…) and several good centers (Bennett, Monahan, Backlund…). Or he could play up the middle and allow the Flames to keep Bennett on the wing, if that’s what they wish to do.
Simply put: Dubois is a really good young hockey player, and selecting him would give the Flames a ton of really exciting options.
Of the three players likely available to the Flames at sixth overall (along with Alex Nylander and Matthew Tkachuk), Dubois is arguably the selection that would give the Flames the most versatility and options.
Heck, he’s big and plays an NHL-esque style of game, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could jump into the NHL right away.