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Pierre-Luc Dubois gaining confidence

Blue Jackets forward prospect picking up play at Traverse City tournament

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The confidence that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois exhibits each time he takes the ice is infectious.

It's one of many reasons the Blue Jackets opted to select Dubois (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. He scored the game-winner midway through the third period of a 3-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.

Listening to Dubois describe his goal was as fascinating as the play itself.

"I protected the puck, fought off a few guys and chipped it behind their defense. I beat (the defenseman) wide, took the puck to the net and it found a way in. Simple as that."

Dubois has looked a lot more confident and composed the past two games for the Blue Jackets. In a 6-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in the tournament opener Friday, he had one assist, a minus-2 rating and no shots on goal. He has one goal, a plus-4 rating and four shots in two straight wins. 

Video: Pierre Luc-Dubois on game winner in Traverse City

In addition to his offensive surge, Dubois has showcased plenty of muscle with some big hits. He also has come to the defense of teammates.

"I'm a competitive guy and I like to play physical," he said. "In the corners I like to hit and protect the puck. I don't really like getting pushed around on the ice. I'm a big guy and don't like being taken advantage of, so I'll play physical. I want to be hard to play against."

Dubois had 42 goals, 57 assists and 112 penalty minutes in 62 games for Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. He also had 12 points in 12 QMJHL playoff games. Despite being the youngest player on the Blue Jackets roster, he isn't intimated.

"He's a big guy, he's physically and mentally mature, but he's young," Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said. "We'll wait and see how his camp goes and make a determination down then on where he fits. I don't want to put anyone in any position where they will regress because it's not fair. But we know he's going to be a terrific hockey player.

"He's a terrific talent and has a lot of leadership skill and can play any three of the forward positions."

Dubois proved versatile enough to play any position, but prefers center, a spot he played for the first time with Cape Breton starting in December 2015. He ended up winning 50.4 percent of the 843 faceoffs he took, second-most for the Screaming Eagles.

"I love playing center, and I'm playing center here in Traverse City," Dubois said. "After moving there at Christmastime in Cape Breton, it took a period of adjusting. But now it's my normal position and it's where I should be. But I could move anywhere in the lineup."

Former NHL forward John Madden, who is coach of Cleveland in the American Hockey League and is coaching the Columbus prospects, likes the fact Dubois is so confident in everything he does.

"I think there's a fine line between cockiness and confidence and as I've gotten to know him, I can tell you it's confidence because he's not a cocky kid," Madden said. "He's confident and he should be because he brings a lot to the table. You can check all the boxes for him on what you need to become and NHL player."

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