Flames First Round Targets 2016: Pierre-Luc Dubois

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.

From our pals at Future Considerations:

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.

Scott Wheeler of Pension Plan Puppets had some additional context:

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.

THE NUMBERS

Dubois’ career stats, via Elite Prospects:

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 7.25.08 PM

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.

Pierre-Luc Dubois Shot Heat Map

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

  • Juan Valdez

    BT has proven he’s a shrewd negotiator, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make a deal at the draft floor.

    Chiarelli is probably still pissed about not getting Hamilton, so I suspect there’s no deal to be made with the Oilers; However, I could see another deal with the Canucks involving a player by the name of Mark Jankowski (if Dubois is still available).

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      First they have to sign Jankowski before they trade him?
      I doubt Vancouver wants to make a trade with Calgary and offer them a very good power forward prospect. I have a feeling that draft position will not change 1-6.
      Toronto keeps Mathews
      Winnipeg basically was the biggest winner so they are not trading.
      Columbus needs a blue chip pick
      Edmonton won’t trade the pick unless they get a #1-2 dman
      Vancouver is not in the business of doing Calgary any favors, so I don’t think anything changes..
      Being a long ,rangey centre, I’m not so sure that Calgary would want to trade Jankowski now as he will be ready to fight for a spot in next years lineup.

  • Backburner

    He is the most likely player out of the top 3 who could play in the NHL right away. I think another year in Junior would help him mature a little bit, but physically he’s ready.

    I think a line of Bennett, Dubois and Ferland would be an absolute wrecking ball.

    Both Burke and Treliving have made it clear how much they want to build a team with size, skill, and edge. This makes me wonder if they will at least kick tires on the 4th overall pick.

    If Edmonton wanted to get a Defenseman (Wideman), Add a second round pick or two, and not fall to far back in the draft, it might not be a bad option for them.

      • Backburner

        Wideman’s not elite.. but he’s a right handed, experienced puck moving defenseman, that can play on the powerplay.

        They would only be dropping two draft spots, as well as gaining a couple of mid-round picks that they don’t have.

        They could still choose to trade the 6th pick if they want another Defenseman.

        • Parallex

          Two problems…

          A: Wideman costs a lot and we have zero evidence that the Flames are willing to retain salary,hard to move that much $$

          B: Wideman has a NMC… why would he waive to go to Edmonton?

          ________________________________________________

          On Dubois: He’d be my pick of the 2nd ledge players (by a small nose) based simply on just that he’s the most physically mature, enough to play in the NHL next season.

          Honestly, I don’t think he’ll be available to us at 6 since I think that’s (NHL readiness) an appealing trait for both of the selectors directly in front of us (so even if one elects to take a defenseman I think the other takes Dubois. It’s not impossible (all we need is for one to take a D-man and the other to prefer Tkachuk) but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

          • Backburner

            A)Flames would most likely have to retain some salary, but as long as his cap hit does’t count against the Flames, that won’t be an issue for them.

            B)Would he waive to go to Edmonton? I think he would because he only has a year left before he UFA. He already had his name dragged through the press for that text, he wouldn’t want anything else to haunt him.

    • jakethesnail

      “If Edmonton wanted to get a Defenseman (Wideman), Add a second round pick or two, and not fall to far back in the draft, it might not be a bad option for them.”

      Heck I would also give them Smid and their third pairing defence would be set, better than any of the third pairing d-men they have now.

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        Oilers are not trading the number 4 pick to Calgary in any combination involving Dennis Wideman. An 18 year old top end power forward prospect for a 30 something 4-6 dman who is a UFA after next season. Put an end to this nonsense !
        It’s not happening!

        I

    • everton fc

      He may be available at #6, as there are good defenders in this draft, and perhaps that’s how the Oilers go. I’m sure BT will kick tires, but I can’t see the Oilers taking that deal, though it’d be one to consider, to get Dubois. We’d have to retain some of Wideman’s salary, though. Nakladal’s also a right-handed shot. And we have young defensive depth we can perhaps parlay. Maybe a deal where we take Yakupov off their hands might get us the 4th pick. They desperately want to dump this kid. We are lean on the right wing. Left wing, too, for that matter. Not saying I approve… Just floating it out there. How would Yakupov do with Bennett? I wonder…

      Bennett, Dubois and Shinkaruk would also be an interesting line. So would Bennett, Dubois and Yakupov. Ferland hasn’t shown he can play RW on a first or second line basis. Not sure if Pollock plays RW, but he’s a right-handed shot…

      Another interesting line – Tkachuk-Bennett-Shinkaruk, if Dubois isn’t in our deck of cards. Tkachuk-Bennett-Pollock also interests me…

      (Wonder if the Oilers will make a play to get Kris Russell?)

      • EhPierre

        The Oilers aren’t gonna want Wideman especially for the 4th overall pick when everyone around the League knows we’ve been trying to dump him for over a year now. Nak has value but he’s UFA and not enough value for the 4th OA. I also would like to hear how you think we can get Yak; sure the Oilers may have been trying to trade him, doesn’t mean they’re gonna trade an uber talented young kid to their rivals for spare parts

        • everton fc

          Don’t disagree. I don’t think the Oilers would be interested in Wideman. Maybe Nakladal, but not for the #4 overall, as part of a package coming from Calgary that would also include another prospect and picks…

          As for Yak, it’d have to be a package deal. Not sure what that looks like. If I were the Oilers, I’d keep Yakupov one more year – move him at the deadline, “need be”…

          I’m beginning to think Tkachuk might be who we should pick, and therefore we should hold for him, at #6, if he’s available… If he goes, perhaps we trade down a bit – maybe the Leafs want another Nylander!

          But if Dubois available at #6… That would be amazing.

      • T&A4Flames

        A couple of things:
        -Yakopov may not have as much value as the Oiler fans seem to hope for, but he’s not a cap dump. We would have to give up something more than cap space.

        -Pollock is a left shot, not a right shot, unfortunately.

      • jakethesnail

        “(Wonder if the Oilers will make a play to get Kris Russell?)”

        Of course….the Flames management valued Russell very highly and there are some in Edmonton that also value him. Russell actually put in a good showing for Dallas in the playoffs. He would be an obvious upgrade to what they have now. Again, it depends what he wants for salary.

  • Stan

    All this talk about trading Wideman to EDM is quite interesting. At his current salary, Wideman is not a desirable player. However, if Calgary retained 50% salary then suddenly Wideman turns into an affordable, RH shot, PP specialist that could slot right into Edmontons second pairing. Of course Wideman has to waive his NMC, but if BT told him he would be getting barely any minutes this season then could he be enticed too to try and redeem some of his value before he hits FA? Edmonton would obviously have to make another move to solidify their top pairing, but I honestly think a top 4 D of Klefbom, Sekera, Wideman, and big trade acquisition is respectable enough. Edmonton could then use the 6 pick to choose their top Dman from the draft, who would likely be able to step in once Wideman hits FA.

    Would Wideman (50% retained) + #6 + late 2nd or 3rd round pick be enough to pry #4 from EDM?

    What would then interest me if this scenario was to unfold is what it would then take to move from #4 to #3. I would be interested in hearing what others think would be a realistic offer in this scenario. Word is that CBJ would have to be “blown away” by the offer. Would #4 + #35 + #55 be enough? Would adding one of Ferland/Colborne/Bouma be enough? Or would they prefer we add a high end prospect such as Kylington, Jankowski, Anderrson, Mangiapane, Shinkaruk, Poirier, etc…?

    Would be interested to hear everyone’s thoughts.

    • EhPierre

      If we somehow do end up getting the Oilers pick, I think we have enough to get the Jackets pick. I’d offer the 4th, our late 2nd, Backs and either Shink/Colb

      I know it may sound like a lot of pieces but you have to pay a premium for picks like this especially when we’re getting a player like Puj back. Columbus doesn’t necessarily need prospects, they need impactful players that can play now with generally low cap hits. So for them to give up on Puj who would be an impactful player with a low cap hit, you’d have to be willing to give up players that can help support their core which Backs and Shink/Colb would do

      • Stan

        Don’t know why my original post got so many trashes. Just trying to start a discussion lol.

        ANYWAYS, in my opinion, including Backlund in that package would be an overpayment. They are only moving down one spot, albeit out of the first tier of top prospects. I am not sure that CBJ would have interest in Backlund either, as they have some similar type/caliber players. My understanding is that they are relatively set on D and depth forwards but would like to acquire more top forwards. I also believe they have some cap troubles. In this scenario, sending Wideman at 50% retained would free up some space for us. Could we potentially take a bad contract back? How is CBJ goaltending situation, would they be interested in Gillies?

        #4 + Gillies for #3?
        #4 + #55 + Ferland + Arnold for #3?
        #4 + #53 & #55 for #3 and a cap dump?

        I honestly have no idea what would get it done. Just spitballing here.

        • Kevin R

          Columbus wants a centre badly but it would take Bennett to get that #3, probably straight across, but we may be able to get them to add the #33. I imagine that Finish GM in Columbus would be sky high on Pullky. If I was BT I still wouldn’t do that deal. Would Backlund & our #6 get the #3? Interesting & intriguing. Huge price to pay but if the Fin can step in our top 6 immediately, I would take a long hard think about that. Is Janko ready to move into that 3rd line C spot next year. Huge gamble. I would think Columbus would have to seriously think about that deal as well. When both teams have to think twice about the deal, it means it’s probably a pretty fair deal. Calgary could afford parting with Backlund with Monahan & Bennett in the fold. Huge hole on that 3rd line. Sometimes you need to take your chances.

        • EhPierre

          Gillies? You don’t include our best goalie prospect especially in a time when we need a good goalie. Backlund is an overpay but that’s what you gotta do to get into the first tier, you gotta over pay. The Jackets don’t have any players of Back’s calibre in the sense of defensive centres that can take the other teams best lines so they’d be interested in Backs but like you said, the Jackets need more top forwards and the Flames don’t really have that outside of JG, Mony and Bennet. You can offer Mangiapane or Shink but that’s really it for our top forwards

    • Juan Valdez

      In the morality clause of the SPC (standard players contract) it states that a player must “conduct himself on and off the rink according to the highest standards of honesty, morality, fair play and sportsmanship, and to refrain from conduct detrimental to the best interest of the Club, the League or professional hockey generally.”

      Wouldn’t it be easier for Flames management to terminate Wideman’s contract instead of trading him or paying any remaining portion of his salary?

      • piscera.infada

        Wouldn’t it be easier for Flames management to terminate Wideman’s contract instead of trading him or paying any remaining portion of his salary?

        In a word, no.

        • Stu Cazz

          Piscy..let me try and add some depth to your narrow view of one word…if the Flames terminate/buyout a contract they are still on the hook for a portion of his contract on the cap. Albeit smaller a year is added to the contract as a cap payment….

          • piscera.infada

            It’s clear he’s not talking about a buy-out. I, for the record, meant no offense to @Juan Valdez–sorry for my terseness.

            He’s talking about terminating the contract due to immaterial breach of contract–as evidenced by the “morality clause” he cited above. This would be something similar to what LA tried to do to Mike Richards. Assuming you were able to slip this one past the NHL for cap circumvention (which you wouldn’t, since the Richards fiasco), you’d then need to get it past an NHLPA challenge (which would be pretty open and shut from their side). Then if you got through that, you’d need to deal with all the blow-back/unintended consequences from terminating a contract signed by all parties in good faith. Due to the last point alone coupled with the fact that there’s only one year left on the albatross contract, even a half-hearted attempt at terminating the contract from the Flames’ point of view isn’t worth it.

            Now, if you have a problem with me personally, you should keep that to yourself. You’re way out of your depth attacking my posts for their substance.

        • T&A4Flames

          Are you guys thinking this is a real possibility?? Put the bong down and find some sense. Richards was dumped for an off ice, illegal act involving illegal drugs. Wideman had an on ice infraction which was covered and penalized under league regulations.

          Seriously, stop this retarded talk….please. 1 more year at the most for you Wideman haters.

  • EhPierre

    I understand why everyone wants Dubois, he fits a lot of boxes but when you’re drafting, you gotta think of long term as in, which prospect is gonna have an impactful career for 5 years-10 years; not which prospect is gonna be able to play for us next year.

    I personally would go with the highly talented Nylander. I know he may play small which is something the Flames have been trying to improve on but I feel like Nylander would have a more impactful career playing for us than Dubois would. Nylander has the better shot, better skill overall and the better skating. All he’s missing is his two way play and strength which luckily the Flames have a great staff so strength shouldn’t be something we should be worried about

  • al rain

    I love this article and the whole talking about Dubois as a Flame thing. Let’s enjoy it now because after June 24 we’ll never be able to do it again.

    Please stop all talk of acquiring Yakupov. The Oilers overvalue all of their players (he was a FOA, you know!), all of whom deteriorate in actual ability from the time spent wearing that jersey, showing up for beatings year after year and having “loser” ingrained. You can’t scrub off that stench with a change of scenery.

  • Baalzamon

    Full disclosure, I prefer Nylander over both Tkachuk and Dubois. In fact, at the moment I also prefer Tkachuk to Dubois (though that changes frequently).

      • Baalzamon

        No I’m not. First of all, I think the Oilers are taking Tkachuk assuming they keep the pick, second of all I legitimately believe Nylander is the best of the three.

        But I suppose you wouldn’t understand objectivity, being an Oilers fan.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          Well almost everyone else disagrees with you . People think PLD is going 4rth

          Just read scouting report on Nylander and he looks easy to move off the puck.Not so physical.He is not Chiarellis type and probably not Burkes either. Truculant and Nylander doesn’t fit.

  • Pizanno

    We are not getting Dubois. Even if the Oil or Nucks want D they will trade down and still get who they want, leaving the new team in 4/5 to select BPA Dubois.

    The only way to get him is to trade with one of the two unlikeliest trading partners. I would love to see it happen, but am 95% sure it will not. Especially if Wideman is the chip.

  • jakethesnail

    With so many projections pointing to the Flames selecting A Nylander with the 6th pick, I found an article by The Hockey Writers on Nylander:

    ” In over ten personal viewings of Nylander during the 2015-16 season, the ability of opposing players to either knock Nylander off of the puck, or pressure him into a bad decision through the use of an impending check was not only noticeable, but also frequent.

    It is the same lack of size which likely inhibits Nylander from whole-heartedly pursuing pucks in the corners and participating in puck battles. When he does, he is rather easily closed off from the puck or even knocked down.”

    Not traits that would endear Flames management to Nylander for the 6th pick! Sure, super skilled offensively, BUT…

    • piscera.infada

      I read that article. In fairness, it’s one person’s opinion of him as a player. It’s funny, because in that same article he points to Nylander’s 20 secondary assists as a “red flag”, and in the same paragraph dismisses that as a potential issue for Tkachuk (who had 41[!]).

      In an earlier article, the same writer (Slawson) labels Nylander as a “consistent offensive producer at the next level”.

      His argument about an “apparent lack of footspeed” is also something that seems imagined, because no one else ever mentions that.

    • Brodano12

      That article is such horseshit from beginning to end. Filled with horrible and frankly false observations that directly contradict most scouting reports.

      For example, it says – “In most cases, Nylander exists as a perimeter player, meaning he likes to stay wide or outside of the play in order to watch it develop. In doing so, Nylander’s line mates typically draw the majority of puck battles in hopes of securing the puck and feeding it to the skilled winger. As a result, Nylander doesn’t generate many offensive opportunities on his own, rather, he feeds off of the speed and skill of his linemates, who typically gain the zone before feeding the puck to Nylander. When he does grasp the puck, Nylander can dish it or shoot it amongst the best in the OHL, but he is not one of the fastest skaters. His propensity to be caught by opposing players on their back-check is troubling, especially so the great agility and edges which Nylander retains on his skates”

      If you watched him at all you would know that he’s a major driver of offense and loves to have the puck on his stick. Hell, his next best linemate is McLeod, who barely hit a PPG in his sophomore season. When McLeod as out of the lineup, the Steelheads scored 15 more goals than when Nylander was out of the lineup.

      He is very good at entering the zone and also is not afraid to get into the dirty areas. He compares Nylander’s primary PPG to DeBrincat and Mascherin, but those are the two most underrated players in the draft in terms of offensive output. If you compare Tkachuk and Dubois’ Primary PPGs, they are also in that range.

      That article is written with such bias. It says he plays a soft game and that he’s undersized, but 6’0 180 at age 17 in his rookie OHL season is pretty average for NHLers.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    This kid will be the best of the three 2nd tier players in my opinion. The size/skill combo is always hard to come by and he will not be there at 6. We can always hope!

  • freethe flames

    If the Flames think Nylander is to soft then they will draft someone else; it’s not that complicated. We talk as if the top six is written in stone; it may not be. I know that people don’t want to talk about moving down but it could happen and if we moved a couple down and added another asset it might not be the end of the world.(Note: I don’t want to give #6 away and would be happy with Nylander if that’s what the Flames think). This move will likely happen on the draft floor and not before.

    • supra steve

      Agree completely, the top 6 picks cannot be predicted. If the Flames decide Nylander is too soft (which is my uneducated belief), then they choose someone else. And if they choose to move back, then let’s hope they know what they’re doing and who they’re getting with that later pick.