It was a relatively well-established fact throughout much of the 2015-16 season: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles left winger Pierre-Luc Dubois and Val-d’Or Foreurs right winger Julien Gauthier are the QMJHL’s top NHL Draft prospects.
In a draft class crowded with high-end American talent and a number of highly touted names from Europe, Dubois and Gauthier stand as two of Canada’s brightest young stars on the international hockey scene.
Both solidly built with each possessing an impressive offensive acumen, Dubois and Gauthier have been neck-and-neck every step of the way, each participating in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series and the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game while leading their respective QMJHL teams to playoff berths.
Gauthier represented Canada at the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship in Finland while Dubois was a late cut. At year’s end however, it is Dubois who has been named the CHL’s Top Draft Prospect as well as the top ranked North American Skater by NHL Central Scouting heading into next weekend’s draft in Buffalo.
The son of Rimouski Oceanic assistant coach and former pro defenceman Eric Dubois, Pierre-Luc finished the 2015-16 season with 42 goals, 57 assists and 99 points in 62 games before registering seven goals, five assists and 12 points in 12 playoff games.
The 6’3″, 202Ib. winger, who also has the capacity to play all three forward positions, has drawn high praise from NHL scouts who cite his “complete game,” “high ceiling” and “elite skating ability.” What’s more, Dubois recently finished in the top 12 of six different fitness testing categories at the NHL Scouting Combine.
From the fifth overall pick of the 2014 QMJHL Draft to the sixth overall pick from 2013, Julien Gauthier’s 6’3″, 231Ib. frame, deceptive speed and hard-working approach offers a unique blend in this year’s draft class.
The youngest player on Canada’s National Junior Team this past year, Gauthier comes into the draft discussion behind Finnish standouts Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi on the right side. The big winger recorded 41 goals, 16 assists and 57 points in 54 games with Val-d’Or this season before adding two goals and three assists in the Foreurs’ disappointing first round upset at the hands of Blainville-Boisbriand.
Gauthier, who is the nephew of former NHL defenceman Denis Gauthier, is described by NHL Central Scouting as a “skilled power forward that can score” and “a very good skater with size and strength who plays a physical game.”
While Dubois and Gauthier headline talent coming out of the QMJHL, other players to keep an eye on come draft day include 2016 QMJHL and CHL Defenceman of the Year Samuel Girard of the Shawinigan Cataractes, 2016 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game MVP Pascal Laberge of the Victoriaville Tigres, Russian speedster Vitalii Abramov of the Gatineau Olympiques and versatile blueliners Frederic Allard of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Luke Green of the Saint John Sea Dogs.
The 2016 NHL Draft is fast approaching as today’s QMJHL stars hope to hear their names called on June 24th and 25th at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY.
Here’s a look at what NHL Central Scouting has to say about top draft prospects from the QMJHL (Final NHL Central Scouting Draft Ranking in brackets):
(LW) Pierre-Luc Dubois – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 
62 GP, 42 G-57 A-99 PTS
“Highly skilled forward that can play all three forward positions. Knows how to utilize his size and strength to advantage and can play with an edge. Strong skater with deceptive speed and quickness. Gifted playmaker with elite hockey sense and soft hands; has very good vision and anticipation to generate offense and capitalize on chances.”
(RW) Julien Gauthier – Val-d’Or Foreurs 
54 GP, 41 G, 16 A, 57 PTS
“Skilled power forward that can score. Very good skater with size and strength, has a strong fluid stride with deceptive speed. Plays physical game, willing to battle for pucks down low and positioning to the net. Adept hockey sense, offensive instincts and playmaking skills to get open on the play and finish his chances. Responsible and hard working in all zones.”
(C) Pascal Laberge – Victoriaville Tigres 
56 GP, 23 G, 45 A, 68 PTS
“High skilled forward with good offensive hockey sense. Strong skater with an extra gear to pull away with the puck. Soft hands and good vision to make plays and finish scoring chances. Competes on a high level and willing to go to the dirty areas to score.”
(RW) Vitalii Abramov – Gatineau Olympiques 
63 GP, 38 G, 55 A, 93 PTS
“Highly skilled forward with excellent vision and playmaking skills. Small but with a high compete level and plays well in traffic. NHL skater with an accurate shot and one who can finish around net. Great anticipation, thinks the game very well and thrives on opportunity.”
(D) Frederic Allard – Chicoutimi Sagueneens 
64 GP, 14 G, 45 A, 59 PTS
“A big leader on a team that had an up-and-down season. Late 1997 birthday is deadly on the power play and nearly doubled his point production from 2014-15, recording 14 goals, 45 assists and 59 points in 64 games.” (From Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News)
(D) Samuel Girard – Shawinigan Cataractes 
67 GP, 10 G, 64 A, 74 PTS
“An undersized puck moving defenceman that is dynamic on offensive side of game. Quarterbacks the power play and distributes the puck well with good vision. Good skater, quick and mobile game with the puck. Managing risk-reward decisions well to make responsible choices on the play.”
(D) Luke Green – Saint John Sea Dogs 
61 GP, 10 G, 25 A, 35 PTS
“Highly effective skating, puck moving defenceman. Strong and mobile skater who is capable to lead a rush and who excels at jumping into the attack. Advances the puck effectively with first pass plays and distributes puck well on power play. Shoots with authority and can find the shooting lanes from point.”
(G) Evan Fitzpatrick – Sherbrooke Phoenix 
54 GP, 18-34, 3.42 GAA, .896 SV%, 2 SO
“Excellent positional style goalie who has a very big presence in the net. Plays ‘big’ in all situations. Features great angle play as a real strength to his game, often playing at the top of the crease to take room away from shooters. Very confident and holds his ground well.”