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 honoured 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."
NHL.com: Who is your favorite NHL player and why?
Dubois: "I like [Dallas Stars captain] Jamie Benn and [Flyers captain] Claude Giroux. I like Benn because I think I play the same style game as he does. Giroux shows so much passion and competitiveness, and I admire that, too."
NHL.com: What do you remember about playing hockey in Germany as a youngster late in your father's playing career?
Dubois: "I don't remember a lot. I remember the coaches yelling at me in German and I was kind of confused trying to understand. After that, I remember playing games with the orange ball instead of a puck. I'm just really happy my dad was there, because without him I think they would have just kept speaking German, and that would have created more confusion. I was 3 years old when I started playing, so I was a little kid. When I turned 5 years old, I started playing in North America."
NHL.com: What do you think of fellow QMJHL forward Julien Gauthier of Val-d'Or? He was No. 12 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
Dubois: "He's a really good player and a really big guy (6-3, 225). He uses his body to his advantage. He's got good speed and a good shot. And I think if you look at his stats, he's showed this year he could put the puck in the net."
NHL.com: Do you consider yourself an all-situations type of player?
Dubois: "I want to be a complete player. I want to play on the power play, the penalty kill, and at the end of a game when you need a goal or when you need to protect a lead. Playing every position and every situation is something I really take pride in."
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer