BUFFALO, NY – The Blue Jackets surprised a few people when they selected Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft, but surprise isn’t new to the 18-year-old from Quebec who made the successful transition to playing center this year.
“I think I can play center in the NHL,” Dubois said. “I know I'm a guy that can play any position anywhere on the ice, any situation. I think I have the skill set to play center.”
Dubois said while he’s always been open to playing any position, he preferred playing down the middle of the ice. And that opportunity came when his centerman on the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles left the team to participate in the World Junior Championship.
Dubois worked with his coach and his dad (Eric), who is also a coach in the QMJHL, and watched a lot of video, but his expectations of being a productive center were perhaps his biggest teacher.
“I talked a lot to my wingers, talked to my defensemen, I played center how when I was a winger I wanted my center to play,” Dubois said. “I communicated a lot with my wingers and defensemen and I’m a fast learner.”
Having around 45 games under his belt now in the new role, Dubois is looking forward to more experience to hone his skills.
He also plans to continue getting bigger and stronger. The 6-foot-1, 201-pound center has added 50 pounds to his frame in the last two years and as he expects to continue developing his physicality and play.
Click for complete NHL Draft coverage on BlueJackets.com
“I think I grew later than others, and I don't even think I'm done right now,” Dubois said. “(I plan to) get bigger and stronger – (teams) draft you for what you’re going to be in your prime and not what you are right now.”
That bodes well for a player is already producing quite well. In just his second year in the QMJHL, in the regular season, Dubois was third in the league in points, fifth in goals, and sixth in assists (42-57-99).
He was named to the league’s second All-Star team and received the Paul Dumont Trophy for Personality of the Year and the Mike Bass Trophy as the Best Professional Prospect in the QMJHL.
“I'm a big guy. I'm the type of guy that can play any position. I can block shots, I can play power play, I can play PK,” Dubois said. “I'm the type of guy that even if I play against the top line of the other team, I can still produce and find a way. I think I'm really creative offensively. I can shoot (and) I can pass the puck.”
Dubois’ entire life has been about hockey and he loves playing center. He looks forward to being the best player he can and helping his team.
“I want to be the guy you can count on,” he said. “Center’s a big position, you have a lot of responsibility playing center whether it’s face-offs or defense or supporting your wingers or your defensemen,” Dubois said.
“I want to be the guy you can count on, whether it's power play, penalty kill, whether you're winning 1-0 or you're losing 1-0…I want to be the guy you can count on.”