Winnipeg Jets centre Pierre-Luc Dubois continues to grease the skids to get dealt to the Montreal Canadiens on the NHL trade market. The Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., native has accepted a one-year $6 million qualifying offer from the Jets.
So what does that mean for the Montreal Canadiens who by all accounts are the leading NHL trade suitors for the 6-foot-3, 218-pound centre?
Well, first off Dubois signing the qualifier, that creates a fix cost so that Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes knows what his qualifying offer would be next season. This also allows the Canadiens to sign Dubois, 24, to an eight year extension should they be able to acquire him before the start of 2023 NHL free agency. In addition to that, it makes it easier for the cap-strapped Canadiens (currently $1.1 million in cap space), to acquire him much sooner. Knowing that they have him set in at that $6 million cap hit and don’t have to negotiate a contract extension until the end of the 2022-23 season is huge.
“[Pat] Brisson is doing everything he can to make this trade to Montreal happen,” an NHL executive told Montreal Hockey Now about an hour after the news that Dubois signed the qualifier broke.
“He’s making it easier for both sides now actually. ‘Chevy’ [Kevin Cheveldayoff] can probably ask Kent for more now because the path to an extension in Montreal is easier now and Kent will know that and be willing to give a little more.”
Dubois’ agent Pat Brisson has already been greasing the skids and increasing the NHL trade rumours for his client to wind up playing for the team he grew up cheering for and has wanted to play for
“Montreal is a city he would probably … I can talk about it because he doesn’t have a contract at the moment — he’s a restricted free agent,” Brisson told TVA Sports in French on July 13. “Montreal is a place, a city he’d like to play in. That’s all I can say about that.”
Prior to that, Radio-Canada reporter Martin Leclerc confirmed that Dubois was at the NHL Draft with the expectation that he would be traded to the Canadiens at the draft, but according to The Athletic, the deal fell through because the Canadiens were unwilling to part with a certain player that the Jets wanted in the trade.
Shortly after that, Hughes didn’t do anything to silence the Dubois to Canadiens NHL trade rumours when asked about them recently.
“If we had the means to acquire a big centre who is established in the NHL,” Hughes said, “for sure we would have an interest.”
Obviously, Cheveldayoff doesn’t have to trade Dubois or he could find another team on the NHL trade market that makes what he feels would provide a better return, but make no doubt, Dubois and Brisson will continue to do their best to force a trade to the Canadiens.
Dubois just finished a two-year contract that carried a $5M AAV and is coming off a season in which the 24-yr-old, Ste-Agathe-Des-Monts, Quebec native is coming off a solid 2021-22 season with the Jets. In 81 games, Dubois had 28 goals and 32 assists. After electing not to go to arbitration, Hughes could’ve tried to holdout but apparently Brisson sees this as the best path to finally making Dubois a Montreal Canadien.