What were you up to when you were 20?
Well, if you're Pierre-Luc Dubois, you just enjoyed your second very successful NHL season while centering the first line of a playoff team that swept the President's Trophy winners.
His campaign got rocky near the end, but the overall body of work that Dubois produced is quite impressive.
If he continues to improve at a similar rate, he'll soon be one of the best centers in the NHL.
Statistically, Dubois had a very good year. He finished fifth on the Blue Jackets in point share (PS), a statistic that examines how many of a team's points that a specific player was responsible for acquiring.
He increased his goal and point totals from his rookie year, and spent much of the year on the Blue Jackets' first line, centering Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin.
What the stats don't show, however, is the prolonged slump that engulfed the end of Dubois' season. He didn't score for over a month in the 13 games from February 23rd to March 24th, and he only had 2 goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the playoffs, Dubois registered a -6 in plus/minus.
While he did end in a slump, it's important to note that Dubois played in all 82 games plus 10 postseason games — one of only four Blue Jackets to accomplish the feat. Not bad for a 20-year-old.
Highlight of the Campaign
The best play of the season came back in late October, when Dubois took the puck the entire length of the ice, found an opening, and fired the puck into the back of the net to tie the game at three apiece late in the third period.
Dubois is signed through the 2019-20 season with an AAV of $3.394 million but a cap hit of just $894,166. After his current contract expires, he'll be a restricted free agent.
Since it's a contract year for Dubois, he'll have extra motivation. With the departures of Panarin and Matt Duchene, the first-line center position has Dubois' name written all over it, and he'll have to help fill the hole left by Panarin's exit.
We may very well see Dubois become a point-per-game player next year. If it weren't for his slump this year, we may have already seen it happen. He's got the skill and competitive drive to make it happen, and the offensive talent will be around him.