We won’t know who the Canucks draft with their first round selection until Friday night. Until then, the best, brightest and only hockey writers whose contact information I have shared some insight into who Vancouver may target with their fifth overall pick.
Jon Abbott - Radio play-by-play, TSN 1040
While the top two picks in the upcoming NHL entry draft are not likely to be traded by Toronto or Winnipeg, picks three and four could be in play. With the Canucks sitting in the five hole (yes that's a bad hockey joke) Vancouver's approach to that selection may be tied to what team picks ahead of them.
Every NHL club have combed through the prospects to produce their own rankings, projections and assessments. If the player the Canucks have targeted at five is gone before that pick arrives, then they may trade out. They may also choose to go to their second ranked player, with assurances that player will be there.
If the Canucks remain at five, it certainly seems as though that would be to select centre Pierre-Luc Dubois out of Cape Breton. If Vancouver moves down, it could be to select a different centre, such as Logan Brown of the Windsor Spitfires, or move to address the need for defencemen.
Dubois has many scouts glowing at his skating ability, shot strength and three zone play. While his hockey IQ may have been passed down by his coaching father, his ability to play all three forward positions is natural skill and could be quite valuable.
The intrigue at this draft may go beyond what player is taken where and trickle into how organizations shape their rosters around trades at in Buffalo, over days one and two.
Ryan Biech - Canucks Army associate editor
I think the Canucks will take Pierre-Luc Dubois with the 5th overall pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Naturally a winger, Dubois played the majority of this past season as a centre for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the QMJHL, and looked very good doing so. He was able to use his skating, high end hockey IQ and physicality to generate offence from the middle of the ice while still being responsible in his own zone finishing the season +40.
He led the QMJHL in goals (42) and points (99) amongst draft eligible players, while finishing third among that same peer group in shots. All of which are extremely positive signs for a player adjusting to a new position.
Dubois was ranked the 7th best North American skater at the mid-point of the season, but surged to first in the final rankings on the back of a very impressive season that caught the eyes of many scouts. He was extremely noticeable at the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospect Game here in Vancouver, and continued to catch everyones attention with his solid 200-foot game.
That versatility and offensive output reinforces that Dubois has the full package be a very good NHL player for a long time and someone the Canucks should take. He would give the organization a huge boost within their prospect group.
Dave Tomlinson - Radio analyst, TSN 1040
After a disappointing regular season that didn’t produce a repeated playoff berth, the Vancouver Canucks absorbed yet another loss when they fell to the 5th spot in the NHL Lottery Draft, two spots lower than most people had anticipated. With that being said, they can renew some optimism in the local market by deftly drafting an integral piece that could be part of a changing of the guard in the coming years. It’s no secret that the core of the current Canuck team needs to be refreshed over the next few years, and this draft could provide a solid piece with which to build upon.
Although General Manager Jim Benning was quoted around the month of March saying the club would target a defencman, that was stated when the Canucks were, at the time, slated to pick at the bottom end of the top ten. Now that they’re firmly entrenched in the middle, and the top 3 picks have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, the Canucks will have to go with the best player available instead of drafting by position, and that, if no trades are made to impact the teams before them, means taking a forward.
Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi will all be gone before the Canucks step to the podium. And then there is the wildcard Edmonton Oilers, who have made overtures about moving their pick in exchange for a proven NHL defenceman, or a package that contains as such. For the sake of argument, I’ll move forward with the thought that Edmonton retains their pick and chooses to take Matthew Tkachuk. That leaves the Canucks to choose between C/LW -Pierre-Luc Dubois, C/LW Logan Brown, D- Olli Juolevi or D-Mikail Sergachyov.
I propose the Canucks take Pierre-Luc Dubois. He’s versatile, a left winger who played center this past season with Cape Breton in the QHJHL, and is recognized as an explosive skater. Although I’ve never seen him play in person, the reports on him are that he has great offensive instincts, and he improved his play as his season went on. Dubois finished the season third in the ‘Q’ in scoring with 42 goals and 99 points and also third in primary points with 83. Dubois more than doubled the 45 points he put up as a rookie a year earlier. It’s that continual improvement, and his somewhat seamless transition to center, that makes him an attractive pick, as Coach Willie Desjardins has been known to move players around in his line-up.
With good size at 6’2” and 202lbs, Dubios would add some flair and panache and is no slouch defensively, as his +40 this past season supports. With the Canucks looking to add speed, offence, and responsible play to their current crop of drafted players, PierreLuc Dubois would be a fine addition and checks all the boxes for what the Canucks need in their growing prospect pool.
Daniel Fung - Freelance writer
Holding the fifth overall pick, the Canucks are very much at the mercy of the four teams that will be selecting ahead of them. They'd love to get their hands on one of the much-hyped big-three (Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi) and if one were to somehow slide to them, they'd nab him up in a heartbeat.
Picking this close to the top, I don't see the Canucks going off the board (unless they end up trading down). The general thought is the Canucks will be in a position to take one of Matthew Tkachuk or Pierre-Luc Dubois. Both are natural wingers, and both have tremendous offensive ability and speed - two elements the Canucks desperately lacked in the 2015.16 season. Depending on what the Oilers do with the No. 4 pick, the Canucks may not have a choice on who to take but if they did, my inclination is they'd be more interested in Dubois, who has experience at the centre ice position which would help them replace the depth they lost with the recent departure of Jared McCann and knowing they need to have a succession plan in place for Henrik Sedin in a few years.
The only thing that may tempt the Canucks to deviate the plan is if they feel they can land a legitimate franchise defenceman. Jakob Chychrun from the Sarnia Sting may be a name that sparks some interest. He's got size, speed, a great shot and can carry the puck. He's exactly what the Canucks are in need of on the back end if he's as good as the scouting reports suggest. But even then, that's probably not enough to convince the Canucks to sway from Tkachuk or Dubois. I'll say they go with Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Tyson Giuriato - Freelance writer
I think the Canucks will end up with Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Canucks fans will be excited about this guy. He can play the middle or the wing. He has great size and has a knack for putting the puck in the net. The versatility of Dubois will allow the Canucks to experiment with his place in the lineup. And if he’s not ready to make the jump full time this season, he can go back and tear up the QMJHL, as well as star for Canada at the World Juniors.
He finished third in QMJHL scoring this year despite only being in his 17-year-old season (1998-born). The only two guys ahead of him were both 1996-born players. He was also the only guy among all top 50 QMJHL scorers to record over 100 penalty minutes.