Patient Dubois excited to learn NHL destination

Aaron Vickers2016 Draft Center, Features

He’s waited. Patiently.

But with all due respect to the process, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles forward Pierre-Luc Dubois is ready for his date in Buffalo, NY.

The 2016 NHL Draft.

“Knowing where I might start my NHL career, my pro career, it’s really exciting,” Dubois said. “It’ll be fun to experience that with my friends and family and everything.”

He’s had more time than he would’ve liked to speculate.

Dubois has been sitting idle for two months after the Screaming Eagles were eliminated from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs in seven games by the Saint John Sea Dogs.

So when the NHL Draft Lottery rolled around on April 30, Dubois was among the 1.2 million that tuned in to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs nab the first overall pick.

He immediately started doing the math, and trying to figure out which team might nab his NHL rights on June 24.

“Sitting on my couch or working out, there’s not much to do,” Dubois said. “Thinking about the draft, thinking about different situations that can happen, it’s hard not to think about it.”

With good cause, Dubois won’t have to wait much longer when the date rolls around.

He’ll be among the first handful of names called after finishing third among QMJHL scorers with 42 goals and 99 points. It was a season bolstered by a strong second half that saw Dubois jump from seventh among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s midterm to the top-ranked skater by season’s end.

Dubois went from being ranked 28th in Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking for the 2016 NHL Draft last June, to fourth in May’s final ranking.

“Dubois is undoubtedly the QMJHL’s top prospect in 2016,” Future Considerations scout Scott Wheeler said. “He’s arguably the only QMJHL forward who projects as a first line player at the NHL level and has blossomed into a threat not only as a power option but also as a shooter and playmaker. If he can continue to improve his skating, he’s got a chance to be one of the 2016 class’ special talents and someone NHL fans will enjoy watching for years to come.”

Big praise following a big jump.

But Dubois never underestimated himself despite any ranking.

“I don’t think underdog is the word I’d use, but I went up in the draft rankings this year and surprised some people by my ranking at the end of the year,” said Dubois, who had seven goals in 12 playoff games. “I try to be the best player I can. I believed in myself the whole time. I’m just happy where I am right now.”

He’ll admit, though, that the jump on draft charts has resulted in an increased scrutiny.

Pressure, too.

“Maybe a little bit,” admitted Dubois, a fifth overall pick by the Screaming Eagles in the 2014 QMJHL Midget Draft. “The only pressure I see is being the best player I can, working hard and helping my team win, whether it’s in the Q or in the NHL. I don’t put extra pressure on myself because of that.”

Pressure will come, though.

With receiving the Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL’s top professional prospect.

With receiving the CHL’s Top Prospect Award as best pro prospect among NHL draft-eligible juniors.

He doesn’t mind.

Not with his draft journey now winding down.

“It’s all about the process,” Dubois said. “The best advice I’ve gotten from a guy that’s been drafted is really enjoy it. It only happens once in your life.

“It might be long and it might take a while, but it’ll be worth it.”