BUFFALO, N.Y. – Nearly 20 hours after he officially turned 18 years old, Pierre-Luc Dubois heard his name called during Round 1 of the NHL Draft.
That part was expected. What shocked everyone inside First Niagara Center was when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the name of the 6’2, 205 lbs. forward out of Cape Breton.
Most, if not all of the projections for Friday’s first round saw the Columbus Blue Jackets taking Jesse Puljujärvi with the No. 3 overall pick. Instead, it was Ville Siren, head of the team’s amateur scouting, calling Dubois’ name.
“I was a little surprised, but it’s probably my best birthday I’ve ever had in my life. Pretty happy right now,” Dubois said.
With rumors swirling around not only the Blue Jackets’ pick at No. 3 but also the Edmonton Oilers at No. 4, Dubois said it was impossible to avoid the scuttlebutt. He tried his best to avoid it all, but couldn’t help other people talking to him about what could happen around those selections.
“Whatever happened today happened today,” he said. “Whether I get drafted to any team, you’re getting drafted to an NHL team, that’s a dream come true.”
In his second season in the QMJHL, Dubois finished third overall in scoring with 42 goals and 99 points. The strong finish came after a post-Christmas position change from the wing to center. That’s a position now that he feels very confident in playing at the NHL level.
“I’m a fast learner. I’m a guy that can play any position anywhere on the ice in any situation. In the long run I think I have the skillset to play center,” he said.
“He takes care of his body. He’s a smart player. He’s a natural winger that we converted to center during his career, and he took to it like that,” said Cape Breton head coach Marc-Andre Dumont, with a snap of his fingers. “What does that tell you? His hockey IQ is outstanding."
While Dubois’ selection was a surprise to everyone including himself, he feels confident enough in his game that his spot forever in the 2016 NHL Draft’s top three is a deserving one.
“My potential is still far away, so I have a lot to develop,” he said. “I think the next couple of years now everybody’s talking about the two Finns and Matthews going 1-2-3, but the next couple of years I’d be in that discussion too.
“I think I developed more later than others, but they draft you for what you’re going to be in your prime and not for what you are right now.”
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