The saga involving Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois seems to be coming to a head, however, the Montreal Canadiens are not necessarily the only other team in the mix.
TSN analyst Pierre LeBrun explained the 24-year-old forward has no intentions of signing a contract extension with the Jets. Dubois will be a restricted free agent once his current contract expires.
“We know a year ago that Pierre-Luc Dubois through his agent Pat Brisson informed the Winnipeg Jets that he didn’t intend to sign long term,” said LeBrun during the latest edition of Insider Trading. “Now, he’s not eligible to be a UFA until next summer, but our understanding is that Pat Brisson has informed the Winnipeg Jets that his client isn’t inclined to sign an extension this summer, not even a one-year bridge, and that Pat Brisson would like to work with the Winnipeg Jets for a trade for Dubois to another team.”
The message conveyed by LeBrun on behalf of Dubois’ camp is clear: a trade must take place, and time is running out.
“The bottom line is that this looks like it’s heading to a trade this summer,” explained LeBrun.
The Canadiens, on the other hand, do not seem intent on making any big splashes as they slowly navigate the choppy waters of an NHL rebuild.
General manager Kent Hughes was coy when asked about the possibility of trading for Dubois, though he did make it clear he has no intentions of adding talent to the roster to simply improve the team’s immediate results.
“We’re always open to the idea of adding assets to the lineup that would help the team succeed, but not in the short term.”
Despite making it rather clear he wants to play in Montreal, there’s a possibility his arrival at the Bell Centre could be delayed.
“Pierre-Luc Dubois is fascinating to me,” said Jeff Marek in late April. “I look at the obvious target, which is the Montreal Canadiens. Although I’m led to believe there are other teams Pierre-Luc Dubois is interested in going to. But we all remember the comments at the Draft, and we know the preferred destination is Montreal. If the Jets are really going down the rebuild route, it would really move things along quickly.”
Marek went on to say that some NHL teams had enquired about the possibility of acquiring Dubois and signing him to a short-term contract last summer.
“I was told last year there was a team that was interested in acquiring Dubois for two years,” he explained. “They said ‘Even if he wants to go to Montreal, we’ll take him for two years, because we think we’re close, and we’ll do it.’Their leverage in this situation isn’t great, to begin with.”
With the recent comments by Dubois’ agent, the Winnipeg Jets have essentially lost all their leverage when discussing a trade with the Canadiens, but they could look to other teams if they’re intent on receiving a reasonable return.
Teams that are willing to accept the idea that Dubois is a short-term solution for their centre woes.
There’s also the possibility the Jets may arrange for a sign-and-trade deal with a team other than the Canadiens.
However, this changes very little for the Canadiens in the grand scheme of things, especially when we consider Hughes has already stated he’s not willing to mortgage the future for immediate results.
There are still healthy odds Dubois will end up a member of the Montreal Canadiens, but for now, the team’s best play is to sit back and wait until the Jets evaluate all their options, knowing that the clock is ticking in Winnipeg.