Dubois or Tkachuk? Those were the two players we, at Copper & Blue, had narrowed our choices down to for the 2016 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft.
On one hand, Matthew Tkachuk is a big, powerful forward, with a nose for the net.
On the other hand, Pierre-Luc Dubois is also a big, powerful forward, with a nose for the net. Some further digging was required.
When it came down to it, Dubois' proven ability to create his own offense was the deciding factor. Including playoffs, Dubois score 49 goals and 62 assists for a total of 111 points in 74 games last season. The next closest Screaming Eagle was Evgeny Svechnikov, a Detroit first-rounder from the 2015 draft, who managed 94 points in 63 games.
Dubois, a native of Ste. Agathe-des-Mont, Quebec, is still only 17. He won't turn 18 until June 24th. I don't know if leading your QMJHL team in scoring by your age is as impressive as shooting your age in golf, but it's still pretty very good.
In addition to how many points Dubois scored, we were impressed with how he scored his points. Per this fantastic article from Habs Eyes On the Prize, 41 of Dubois' 57 regular season assists were primary assists. This is an indication that Dubois is an integral part of the offence created while he's on the ice. He is, by no means, a passenger.
Furthermore, that same article points out that of Dubois' 42 regular season goals in the Q last year, only 10 were scored on the power play. Having over 0.5 even strength+shorthanded goals per game as a 17-year-old isn't just good, it's amazing.
So we've established that Dubois can generate offence. But what about the rest of his game?
Dubois' Elite Prospects page features scouting reports that cite excellent defensive play, as well as a relentless ability to forecheck and play a physically punishing style. As a left-handed shot who can play center or wing, EP scouts listed Anze Kopitar and James Neal as NHL players with comparable skill sets and styles.
Plus/minus isn't the best stat out there, but there really aren't any other options to quantify two-way play in the junior ranks. That being said, Dubois lead the screaming eagles with a +43 rating, regular season and playoffs combined last year. That differential was eight goals better than any of his teammates and ten goals better than any other Cape Breton forward.
One possible red flag for Dubois is the amount of penalty minutes he's been known to rack up. He sat for 126 minutes in 74 total games last year. While that could be seen as undisciplined, it could also be construed as an indication that he's not afraid to engage in the rough stuff when he needs to. At 6'3'' and over 200 pounds already, with a mean streak, Dubois should become a fan favourite in Edmonton, if the Oilers draft him.
He may not have as big of a name as Memorial Cup star Matthew Tkachuk just yet. But if the Oilers draft the big francophone at 4th overall, they would be getting one heck of a player.