The 2016 NHL Entry Draft is 36 days away and the Wild are looking to find that NHL star to raise their franchise to the next level. Hockey Wilderness is counting down with a daily mock draft. We are at pick #4 today, and the Edmonton Oilers are on the clock.
Where do the Oilers stand?
The Oilers have a fairly well stocked prospect cupboard because they've drafted so high for so many years, but they've also taken a lot of players over the years that go right to the NHL rather than developing in the AHL. They've taken impact players who are already in the NHL and not much other than that. It's similar to the situation that the Wild find themselves in: good prospects start in the NHL, and the not so good don't really improve and don't help the AHL team.
So if they don't trade the fourth pick, they should also use it on one of the skilled forwards who will still be available. Their prospect cupboard is more bare on right wing than on defense, the position they’ve most needed for years. But if they end up keeping this pick, they would be best served by not picking what they need most: defensemen or right wings. They should just pick the best available player because they can trade back and get the same talent they would get by using this pick on a defenseman.
That being said, the draft is the one place the Oilers can't get the thing they need most: maturity. Perhaps picking a skilled but well-rounded and hardworking forward would be the right move for them. That's why the Oilers should pick Pierre-Luc Dubois.
What do the scouts say about Dubois?
Pierre-Luc Dubois is a hardworking, two-way forward with talent. He spent the 2015-16 season playing for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL where they lost to the Saint John Sea Dogs in the quarterfinal. He can play either center or left wing, and excelled as a center as the season ended. Combining physicality with elite vision and playmaking, Dubois has a diverse skill set that will allow him to make a quick and effective transition to the NHL when he makes the leap.
Scouts like him, and he was ranked as the top North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. In addition to Dubois' physicality, Steve Kournianos of the Draft Analyst likes his shot as well as the way he thinks the game:
"His pro shot and quick release are just part of a myriad of ways he can beat you. All that said, his hockey sense and ability to process plays in a nanosecond helps vault him to the upper tier of a very talented group of draft-eligible power forwards."
Corey Pronman likes his well-rounded and flexible skillset.
"He's a very physically developed player, who is strong, competitive on the ice, drives to the dirty areas, and is committed to his fitness off the ice. "
Pronman also speaks highly of his defensive abilities.
Craig Button on a TSN mock draft said this about the 6’2", 202 lbs. forward:
"Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles is a blend of skill and power who reminds me of Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn. Dubois is smart, can create or finish, and is comfortable playing in the hard and challenging areas."
Basically, Pierre Luc Dubois is smart and puts forth effort, and the Oilers, who are often perceived as not trying as hard as possible, could certainly use a player who brings effort every shift.
Would the Wild like Pierre-Luc?
You bet they would! The Wild really like to draft players who have character and size, two attributes that define Dubois. However, the odds of this top ranked North American skater being available at the 15th pick are slim. He would be a really good fit on a team that wants to be a hard-working, responsible team. His skill wouldn’t hurt either.