Forward Pierre-Luc Dubois of Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League knows he's getting a hockey jersey for his birthday.
Which jersey he gets will be determined by the NHL team that selects him June 24, the first night of the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, and also Dubois' 18th birthday.
"Pretty lucky that the year I get drafted it's the 24th," he said. "It's going to be a fun time."
The team that selects the 6-foot-2, 201-pound left wing also will be receiving a pretty nice present.
"Such a complete game," NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "He has the size and strength to be really tough to control and defend, but he can use that to defend as well. And you put that with the elite skater he is and the puck skills and the hockey sense, he's just a complete package to me."
Dubois was fifth in the QMJHL this season with 42 goals and third with 99 points, and is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2016 draft. He's the first QMJHL player to hold that spot since Rimouski's Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) in 2005.
Dubois did all that while splitting time between left wing and center, a position he played for the first time starting in December 2015. He ended up winning 50.4 percent of the 843 faceoffs he took, second-most for the Screaming Eagles.
"He adapted very well," Cape Breton coach Marc-Andre Dumont said. "He's such a competitor, he's a great learner and he's got passion for the game. Those three ingredients make up for great results."
Said Dubois: "I enjoy playing center better. You see the game better, you're more implicated in the [defensive] zone, you're battling in the corner to get the puck out of your zone and attack on offense. I enjoy the center part a lot. ... I had to learn fast but I think I was pretty good."
Dubois said he had a simple approach to playing his new position.
"I played how, when I was a winger, how I wanted my center to play," he said. "I like when my center communicates with the winger, supports them when the [defenceman] is pinching. He tells him what to do. I tried to be the guy that I wanted to play with when I was a winger."
Dubois said intensive video study also helped with the adjustment, but that's nothing new for him. He has been breaking down video since about the time he learned to tie his skates.
Eric Dubois, Pierre-Luc's father, played professionally for 12 years and has been a coach in the QMJHL since 2004, currently as an assistant with Rimouski. He often used his son to help with his film study.
"I remember when I was a kid, he used to do video with his team and I'd help him," Dubois said. "He'd ask me, 'What do you think he should have done?' I watched a lot of film growing up. ... Probably started at age 6 or 7. Made me realize some stuff. I remember one thing was turning the right way when the puck ... when the D goes to the D [the defenceman passes across to his partner], turn the right way, don't turn back down. He taught me a lot about that. The little details."
Those details helped Dubois not just offensively, but defensively as well. He was tied for second on Cape Breton with three shorthanded goals and seven shorthanded points, and the Screaming Eagles had the sixth-best penalty killing (80.3 percent) during the regular season.
"As much as I like scoring goals, I like winning better," he said. "Some games you have to win them 3-2. I take pride in playing well defensively, being tough to play against. My dad always taught me to play attention to the details, your positioning. I like scoring goals, but winning is the main key. Whatever it takes to win, if it's blocking a shot at the end of a game, it's blocking a shot even if you're winning 3-1 or 5-1. It's the small details."
Teams like all the details of Dubois' game. And he believes having the ability to play center or on the wing, and excel offensively and defensively at both spots, could earn him an NHL job as soon as next season.
"I think physically I can be ready," he said. "Then I think I read the game well enough to adapt to the NHL level. My play without the puck is going to be what keeps me up there. I'm good defensively. I'm mature. I make great plays, smart plays with the puck. I think I'm ready next year."
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor