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Dubois drawing motivation from World Juniors cut

by Tim Wharnsby

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2016 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

When Cape Breton Screaming Eagles forward Pierre-Luc Dubois, 17, a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, learned he wasn't going to play for Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, he turned to a rival Quebec Major Junior Hockey League assistant coach for solace.

That coach was Rimouski assistant coach Eric Dubois, who also is Pierre-Luc's father.

And the fatherly advice was for Pierre-Luc to employ the experience as motivation.

"That's exactly what I told him," Eric Dubois said. "This wasn't the first time he was disappointed in hockey and it won't be the last time. I told him there have been lots of players like Tyler Seguin who for didn't play for Canada at the World Junior Championship and turned out pretty good.

"He knows what he wants to do and I think he's already shown that he has used this disappointment in the right way."

In the six games since he returned to Cape Breton, Dubois has five goals and nine points, including a three-goal, two-assist game against Halifax on Dec. 29.

Dubois, a 6-foot-2, 202-pound left wing, is leads Cape Breton with 56 points and is second wtih 25 goals in 39 games. He's already eclipsed the 10 goals and 45 points he had in 54 games as a QMJHL rookie last season. 

"I feel a lot more confident about my game every day, and that's what I'm trying to do, build on my game each and every day," he said.

"At 16 I was just trying to learn from players like Evgeny Svechnikov, who was drafted in the first round by Detroit [Red Wings, No. 19th in 2015]. This year we have a really good team and I want to have an impact on the team."

Scouts like Dubois' skill, smarts and size, and see him as a solid all-around player. He's not physical, but that aspect of his game may come as he physically matures. He has the makings of a top-six forward in the NHL who can play in any situation.

"Not the best in any category but capable in every category," said an NHL scout who has observed Dubois.

Dubois said he likes to study the game of Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn. Benn is listed at 6-2 and 210 pounds, so there's a similar build to Dubois. Dubois said he likes the two-way game of last season's Art Ross Trophy winner.

Hockey runs in the Dubois family. Eric Dubois played 11 seasons in North American minor leagues and in Europe. He met his wife Jill while he was playing for Atlanta in the International Hockey League. As a child Pierre-Luc played baseball, soccer, golf and football, but he loved hockey the most.

"Right from the start you could see he had a passion for hockey," his father said. "You tell he loved being around the rink."

Pierre-Luc's earliest hockey memories were skating in Germany, where his father's pro career ended. He also recalls the different coaching stops Eric has made in the QMJHL, from Baie-Comeau to Acadie-Bathurst to Rimouski, where he's been since the 2012-13 season.

"I grew up in junior rinks with my dad, watching his teams play," he said. "I'm still like that today, even though he's in Rimouski and I'm in Cape Breton. I still follow pretty much everybody in the CHL."

Eric Dubois said he watches his son via the Internet as much as his job allows. He said he's learned to pick his spots when it comes to fatherly advice.

His son may be a left-shot forward while he was a right-shot defenseman, but Eric knows the game. He was selected by the Quebec Nordiques in the fourth round (No. 76) of the 1989 NHL Draft, and in 1990 he helped Laval of the QMJHL advance to the Memorial Cup.

"First and foremost I want to relate to my son as a dad, not a coach," Eric said. "He has a coach. If he wants to talk about hockey, ask me for advice, then we will talk. But I'm not going to force the issue."

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