A little confidence and some motivation went a long way for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois of Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The 6-foot-2, 202-pound left wing was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. It's a six-spot climb from No. 7 in the midterm ranking.
Dubois, versatile enough to play all three forward spots, had 42 goals and 99 points in 62 regular-season games for Cape Breton.
A motivator for him was being one of the final players cut from Canada's team for the 2016 World Junior Championship.
"Getting that invitation to the under-20 selection camp [in December] was a huge honor," he said. "And maybe getting cut gave me extra incentive to prove that I should have been on that team. I think [Hockey Canada] made the right decisions, but I just wanted to prove to them that I was worthy of a spot."
Dubois had 30 goals and 68 points in the first 46 games of the season to average 1.47 points per game. After a solid performance at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver on Jan. 28, he had 12 goals and 31 points in the final 16 games of the regular season, an average of 1.93 points per game.
"One of my main goals was to improve during the year and I worked really hard in the summer to sustain a good season," he said. "The first half is important, but the second half and the playoffs are even more important. I'm the type of player that, as the year goes on, I feel I get better and better."
Dubois recently took part in a question-and-answer session with NHL.com.
NHL.com: You were No. 7 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters in January. How do you feel about moving to No. 1 in April?
Dubois: "You grow up playing hockey for fun and then it starts to become a business the more you get into it. I was honored and impressed to be that high. My main goal was to climb up the rankings all year. My dad [Rimouski assistant coach Eric Dubois] coached Samuel Morin [Philadelphia Flyers, No. 11] in his draft year . Sam went up the rankings in the second half so I wanted to kind be like that. I wasn't No. 1 [at the midterm], so I pushed and worked to get higher. I guess we'll see what happens at the draft. My dad always told me to have fun, and when I have fun, that's when I play my best hockey. I've always been known, even when younger, to get better as the season went on, and he told me to keep the pace."
NHL.com: What forward position are you most comfortable playing? Who were your linemates in the QMJHL playoffs?
Dubois: "I like playing center, but if I were put on wing I'd probably prefer right wing. But wherever I'm needed, I'm willing to play at that position. We have a really good team here and made a lot of good trades in December, so the fact I've been playing with really skilled guys has been good. I've been playing with Evgeny Svechnikov (Detroit Red Wings, No. 19, 2015 draft) and Maxim Lazarev lately. It's really easy playing with them. They've played together since early on, so they have a lot of chemistry and I just happen to jump in, and I feel the three of us made a really good line."
NHL.com: How do you define leadership and do you consider yourself a leader?
Dubois: "I consider myself a leader. I think a leader is someone who shows his teammates the way on and off the ice, is a competitor and is passionate about what he does. He has to be a good teammate."
Read Dubois' complete Q&A with NHL.com