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Dubois a more confident player at World Junior Summer Showcase

Blue Jackets prospect gained valuable experience from another season in minors

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Columbus Blue Jackets forward prospect Pierre-Luc Dubois learned many valuable lessons in one of the most arduous seasons of his hockey-playing career in 2016-17.

After scoring 99 points (42 goals, 57 assists) in 62 games for Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2015-16, the Blue Jackets selected Dubois with the No. 3 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Hopes of earning an NHL roster spot out of training camp never materialized because Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen thought it best to return Dubois to the QMJHL, urging him to get bigger and stronger while perfecting his all-around game at center.

"They said that playing center in the NHL is a tough job, and I had just started playing the position in December 2016 (in Cape Breton), so I only played there for half a season," Dubois (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) said. "They wanted me to go back to junior, get 25 minutes a game playing center, and be the go-to guy on my team.

"I think I learned a lot; it was a good thing to keep learning because I'm still young so there was no rush."

Dubois scored 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 20 games as an alternate captain for Cape Breton before being traded to Blainville-Boisbriand on Jan. 6. He was asked to play a more defensive role as a top-line center and scored 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 28 games to end the season.

"If I made Columbus [in 2016-17] it wouldn't have been a bad decision, but I don't think getting cut was a bad decision either," Dubois said. "I think it all comes down to what I did after I got cut, and I think I did all the right things to learn from it and become a more mature player."

Dubois had five assists in seven games playing left wing for Canada when it won a silver medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. He's hoping to get another chance to play for it in the 2018 WJC and is one of 39 Canada invites to the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena this week.

"My dream is to play in the NHL and I want to make Columbus," Dubois said. "I'm concentrating on making Canada since I'm here at camp, but when I go to Columbus I'll start thinking about them."

Dubois will play for the Blue Jackets at the Traverse City prospects tournament in Michigan from Sept. 8-12, and said he believes he will be a more confident player entering NHL training camp.

"There's not only one road to success," Dubois said. "A lot of guys don't make it [to the NHL] their first try. No one wants to get cut, but the experience I had at training camp in Columbus last year was great. I got to see a lot of systems and meet a lot of the new players and staff. When I return this year, it's not going to be new."

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