It looks like things may not work out long-term in Winnipeg for Pierre-Luc Dubois, and, although the Montreal Canadiens will undoubtedly be linked to the Jets center, they should think twice before pursuing any deal of the sort.
On his 32 Thoughts segment on Saturday night, NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman reported that the Winnipeg Jets and their 23-year-old center were having difficulty coming to terms on a long-term extension.
“I think one scenario people are going to be watching is Pierre-Luc Dubois,” said Friedman about the possible changes in Winnipeg. “He’s up for a new contract, he’s got two years until unrestricted free agency, so he’s in a situation where he’s got some real power over his future. If the Jets feel they can’t sign him long-term, or that he doesn’t want to sign long-term, I think it’s going to be a situation to watch.”
The last time Dubois was made available was in January 2021, and many were willing to include names like Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cole Caufield, Alexander Romanov and a quantity of high draft picks to acquire the Quebec-born center. With the Canadiens being in a far different situation 15 months later, they should approach the situation with caution.
The Jets are likely looking at a retool after a string of disappointing years, and a shake-up of their core could be in order. If Dubois isn’t signed by the 2022 NHL Draft, trade rumours will be swirling around, and, with the draft being in Montreal, the Canadiens will undoubtedly be linked to the rugged center. Should the Montreal Canadiens not walk out of the 2022 NHL Draft with one of the top centers like Shane Wright or Logan Cooley, trading for Dubois could be an option, but is it the right one?
Dubois Trade Would Negate A Rebuild
If the Canadiens aren’t interested in going on a long rebuild and feel they could make moves to position themselves for the playoffs next season, then Dubois would be a very viable option. Montreal has the assets to swing that kind of trade this summer, especially with the extra 1st and 2nd rounders acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline. Dubois would provide the Canadiens with a real 1-2 punch at center, playing alongside Nick Suzuki for years to come. His style perfectly complements that of Suzuki’s, as Dubois plays a more physical and pesky game, to go along with his skills, and could help alleviate a lot of the pressure that Suzuki faces on a regular basis.
The point of contention then becomes the trade return, as any deal involving Dubois will likely require something along the lines of of:
– 1st round pick (Calgary’s 2022 1st or Florida’s 2023 1st)
– Roster player with term (Dvorak)
– Good prospect (Mattias Norlinder, Jesse Ylönen, Riley Kidney or Jan Mysak)
– Extra pick (Colorado 2024 2nd or Canadiens 2022 3rd)
The Jets are already rather thin at center and will likely want a player with term, like Dvorak, that can fill that position for the time being. Dvorak plays a similar style to that of the Winnipeg Jets and would likely fit in that lineup without issue in a 2nd or 3rd line setting as they retool their roster. The addition of a 1st round pick is a must in any Dubois trade, and the Jets would then be able to choose between a 2nd round pick or a prospect that is close to NHL ready, based on their needs and their perception of the player.
It’s a deal that could make sense for both sides, as Dubois will hold a lot of leverage. He’s two years away from free agency and has arbitration rights for the next two years. Similar to what happened with Jacob Trouba in Winnipeg, Dubois could pick his spots and refuse to discuss a long-term contract extension with any prospective team he doesn’t want to be traded to. Dubois would have welcomed a trade to Montreal last season from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the ask from Columbus was reportedly too rich for former general manager Marc Bergevin.
If the Canadiens do want to speed up their roster transformation, then this is the kind of deal general manager Kent Hughes and executive vice-president Jeff Gorton could pursue. As we’ve seen throughout the years, sorting out your roster up the middle is Step 1 in any sucessful rebuil/retool, so it would be understandable if the Canadiens chose to pursue Dubois. That being said, it all depends on their perception of the next two drafts and their timeline to compete.
Pierre-Luc Dubois first destination choice is @CanadiensMTL The @BlueJacketsNHL ask is now focused around Nick Suzuki / plus. Romanov has been deemed untouchable. Would you do it if your Marc Bergevin? @Line_Movement
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) January 14, 2021
Montreal Canadiens Should Remain Patient
With the way the Montreal Canadiens are finishing this season, it’s clear they’re not one player away from being contenders. They need to add to their defence in a very real way and could very well go on a short rebuild of their own over the next years. The hope that many have is for the Canadiens to win one of the two lotteries in the 2022 NHL Draft and then finish low again next year to get a shot at one of Connor Bedard, Matvei Michkov or Adam Fantilli for the 2023 NHL Draft. Having two lottery picks in back-to-back drafts would propel the Canadiens to the next level and would provide them some elite firepower down the line.
There is merit to going toward a more dedicated rebuild than Habs fans have seen in the past, as the club sorely lacks elite talent in their ranks at the moment outside of Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. They have some good prospects coming up like Joshua Roy, Riley Kidney, Sean Farrell and Kaiden Guhle, but still require more game-breaking talent if they’re going to measure up to the best in the NHL. Bringing in Dubois would assuredly remove the Canadiens from the possibility of being a bottom-feeding team in the NHL next season, as Montreal would have a 1-2 punch that could allow them to rival with bubble teams in the Eastern Conference.
Either way you slice it, there are pros and cons for being aggressive on Dubois, but the wisest choice to be made is standing pat and continuing to replenish an already respectable prospect pool with more elite talent. The Montreal Canadiens have options this summer and Hughes could take this in many directions, but a player like Dubois is a sure bet to help any team get better in a hurry. It’s more a question of timing, and that’s a factor the Canadiens cannot take lightly.