Dillon Dube is a native of Cochrane, Alberta who currently plays center for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. He has ok size for his age, currently standing at a decent enough 5'10" but only weighing a little over 180 pounds. He will certainly need to beef up a little before he can take the hits he will receive at the NHL level, but he has plenty of time to do that and ultimately should.
Dillon has been a solid player for a very successful Rockets team over the past two seasons. Last season, Dillon's first full year with the team, they won the WHL championship, sweeping the Brandon Wheat Kings in the finals. They made it all the way to the Memorial Cup final game, before falling to the Oshawa Generals. This year Kelowna made another deep playoff run, but this time lost in round 3 to the Seattle Thunderbirds. Dillon has been able to play with winners in his junior career, and for those of you who believe that winners breed winning, he is undoubtedly being developed in a winning environment.
Dillon currently slots in as the 41st ranked North American skater. Taking away defensemen, he is the 26th ranked NA forward. He was also a point per game producer this past season, scoring 66 points (26 goals, 40 assists) in 65 games played for Kelowna during the regular season. Could he be someone that the New Jersey Devils would want to target in the 2nd Round, which is when he will most likely come off the board? Let's take a look at him and form some opinions.
Who is Dillon Dube?
Dillon has played for two seasons now in the WHL, again both of them on a quality Rockets team. In his rookie season he was far from a standout, only producing 27 points in 47 games played, but he did manage 5 goals and 6 points in 18 playoff games en route to a championship. That was also all done in limited minutes. It was a sign of good things to come, as this year he broke the point per game barrier, which is a big deal for someone looking to get drafted high. Sadly, however, he did not replicate his playoff success from a year earlier. This year, he only had 2 goals and 5 assists in 18 playoff games, and I am sure the worse production was a factor in Kelowna not repeating as champions.
Sadly CHL Stats seems to have disappeared for advanced stats, but I did find a new website, Prospect Stats. It seems to cover basically what CHL Stats did (although I cannot find possession stats), so we can get some advanced numbers on players from the Canadian junior leagues as well as the AHL. For Dube, we can see some positive numbers. His Goals For % this season was at 54.128%, which is a very good sign. When he was out there, Kelowna was scoring a lot more than it was giving up. He also was a strong power play contributor, producing 6 goals and 12 assists while on the man advantage. The Devils could certainly use more power play guys to improve their PP unit. While the Devils did score a decent amount, anyone watching surely remembers long stretches of ineptitude and the lack of an ability to gain the zone.
He also did well at 5 on 5, and did well producing primary points which is a big deal. 20 of his 26 goals came at even strength, which is a solid number. Furthermore, and even more importantly, of his 26 even strength assists, 18 were primary assists, meaning that he was the final pass the led to the goal. Secondary assists have much more of a luck factor, so seeing primary assists is a good thing. It means that Dube was certainly a playmaker, not just a scorer. 40 assists on the year, 27 of those primary assists, denotes that he is not afraid to be selfless and set up his teammates.
Not everything is overly positive, however. While his Goals For% is high, it is not high relative to the rest of the team. His relative GF% was a -3.249 this year, which means that while he did have a positive GF%, his team was actually better at producing goals when he was off the ice. As a team, Kelowna had a GF% of 54.87%, slightly higher than Dube's number. So he was a positive producer, but how much was that because he was on a great team and not because he was actually the driver of production? That is a legitimate question.
What Others Have Said About Dube
Over at the Last Word on Sports, Ben Kerr recently wrote up a scouting report on Dube. His overall outlook for Dube is summed up here:
"In terms of upside, Dube can be a productive presence and an agitator on a second or third line in the NHL, assuming he is given the time to develop and is able to reach his ceiling. His style is reminiscent of a mixture of Zach Parise with a bit of Brendan Gallagher's feistiness. This is a style comparison though and not one based on talent."
That is not a terrible outlook for a second round pick. A career in the top 9 would be something the Devils could use out of their second rounder. Kerr has positive things to say about Dillon, noting that he plays bigger than his frame would suggest. He is involved in the forecheck, battles hard in front of the net for positioning, and fights for the puck in the dirty areas. According to Kerr, Dube also "has high-end hockey IQ," as he regularly makes smart plays. This helps him be the playmaker that he is, generating so many assists. While Kerr does mention that Dube has a heavy shot and quick release, he does say that Dube can be inconsistent with his goal scoring, drying up for stretches. Overall, however, this is a positive outlook for the Canadian, and one that makes him sound like a quality 2nd round pick.
A couple months ago, Hockey Now did a prospect profile on a few skaters, one of them being Dillon. Here are some snippets of what was written:
"Winning is in his blood and he will do whatever it takes to win...he will sacrifice his body blocking shots and then transit in his game to offense by using his breakaway speed...Creates a lot of turnovers and uses his speed effectively...a real, hard shot."
Again, more positive praise for Dube. Despite his size, those who scout him and watch him seem to report that he just plays bigger than he is. He is willing to sacrifice his body, he gets to the dirty areas, and because he has good offensive instincts and a good mind, he makes plays happen. That is a good aspect to have. The Devils could use his offensive instincts for sure. In terms of a projection, Hockey Now wrote "Dube has all the tools to sneak into the first round if his success continues," and gave him a B+ grade.
Draft Site projects Dube to be drafted with the 42nd pick in the draft to Ottawa, one pick after the Devils are on the board in the second round. If you are interested in Dube, it is a good sign that others believe his value is placed around when the Devils pick, as it gives him a chance to be drafted by NJ should he make it to 41. Bill Placzek at Draft Site had this to say about the center:
"Undersized forward from an athletic family who is a great skater, excellent on ice vision, and shoots the puck very well. One of Kelowna's key guys when they are killing a penalty...Has a high level hockey IQ, a really good face-off man, vision, and plenty of playmaking ability...Has a touch pass. His separation gear causes problems in so many parts of the attack zone."
Again, basically all positives. It is hard to find any negatives written about this kid. Bill praises his playmaking ability, his speed, his two-way game, his tenacity, and more. As he writes at the end, "Longer term development is needed, but no coach will say he doesn't leave it all out there." That is the type of high character player that any team should want.
A Little Video
First, we have a highlight video of some plays and interview questions of both Dillon and the Kelowna head coach. Dillon is number 19.
Next is the same video from the same source, but while the last video was specifically from his most recent season with Kelowna, this next one is from two years ago, when he was a rookie in the WHL. Even two years ago, you could see his abilities coming through:
Next is a highlight video including goals, hits, and penalty kill moments specifically from October. It is a small sample size to be certain, but there are some nice plays to be seen:
Finally, this is perhaps the most polished video of them all, a video from the WHL itself on Dillon. Shows some plays and he discusses things about himself. Another quality video to get to know the player:
I have to say, at first I was a little skeptical about the Devils wanting to spend the 41st overall pick on the 41st ranked North American skater. Considering that there are also many quality Europeans entering the draft this season, that seemed like somewhat of a stretch. However, as I did research on him and learned about his game, I have changed my mind. I think that Dillon would be a worthy player to have in the system. According to Scott Cullen's research at TSN, the 41st pick has approximately a 10.5% chance to generate a star player, but a 39% change to generate a NHL regular who plays at least 100 NHL games in his career. When you look at Dillon and his type of game, if he can bulk up and play successfully over 200 pounds, he certainly has the tools and ability to become an NHL regular, if not better.
What I like best is the combination of intangibles that he has. He has grit; he is unafraid to play above his weight. He also is a two way player, and has been a staple on the PK for Kelowna. This is especially important for a defensive-minded Devils squad. He is a playmaker, but also has a heavy shot to score goals, and goodness knows the Devils need scoring. He is a winner, and has played in a winning atmosphere, and the Devils need to bring back that aura of winning. Perhaps most importantly, however, he has the intelligence and hockey IQ to succeed at the highest level. He has the ability to learn how to play against the best, and also has the hockey instincts to make it work during split second decisions.
For those reasons, I would be pleased if the Devils took Dillon Dube 41st overall. He may not be the biggest forward out there, but he has the game to make it work.
What do you think about Dillon Dube? Do you think he has a good chance to succeed at the NHL level? What do you like most about his game? What concerns you about him? Do you think his size may prohibit him from becoming a quality NHL player? Would you be happy if he was taken by New Jersey in the second round, or are you looking elsewhere with that pick? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.