2016 NHL Draft: Columbus Blue Jackets bring draft riser Dubois into the fold

By Ken McKenna
2016 NHL Draft - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Columbus Blue Jackets

Photo: Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Pierre-Luc Dubois was all smiles after the team made him the third pick overall at the 2016 NHL Draft (courtesy of Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

 

 

The Columbus Blue Jackets provided the first mild surprise of the 2016 NHL Draft when they chose center/winger Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with the third selection overall.

While Dubois was a virtual lock to be chosen among the first five players off the board, it was expected that the Blue Jackets would instead choose winger Jesse Puljujarvi with their pick. Instead, Puljujarvi ended up being selected one pick later by the Edmonton Oilers. While slightly surprised by his selection by Columbus, Dubois feels that in time he’ll fulfill the lofty expectations that come with being a top-3 selection.

“I  was  a  little  surprised but mainly because everybody  has  been  talking  about  the big three,” Dubois said.  “I think I’m a guy who developed  later  than  others.  I gained 50 pounds, 45 pounds the past two years,  three  inches.   I  think my ceiling is still really high.  I still have  a  lot  to  go, a lot to learn.  I can still get bigger and stronger.

“They draft you for what you’re going to be in your prime, and I think in my prime  — that’s what I tell every team in the combine, in my prime I think I’m  going to be in the top three, and not just the top three but maybe top four, top five.”

The 6’3″, 202-pound Dubois made gains in the draft rankings due largely to a strong second half of the 2015-16 season in which he finished with 42 goals and 99 points in 62 games. He added seven goals and 12 points in 12 QMJHL playoff games, and was named the QMJHL’s Best Professional Prospect ahead of the draft.

But it may have been his performance on a bigger stage – the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game – that catapulted Dubois up the rankings.

“Yeah, it’s one game to play your best in front of everybody,” Dubois said of his one-goal, two-assist performance at the premier draft prospect showcase. “I think that was one of my best games of the year, and I mean, that was pretty important to play well there.”

Dubois has been described as a versatile, two-way forward, a description that the Blue Jackets’ top pick seems to think is an accurate one.

“I think, like I said earlier, I want to be the guy you can count on, whether it’s power play, PK, whether you’re winning 1-0 or you’re losing 1-0, I want to be the guy you can count on, and I think in a couple of years I can be that guy,” said Dubois. “I still have a lot to learn, obviously. I’m still a young guy. But I’m sure with the staff and the players in Columbus I’ll learn a lot from them, and I think in a couple of years I can be that.”

Some of Dubois’s comments (including in French) following his selection by Columbus can be viewed below in this Hockey’s Future video.