Winnipeg Jets general manager (GM) Kevin Cheveldayoff took a huge gamble in trading franchise cornerstone Patrik Laine to the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2021. The hope at the time was that an excellent trio of centres in Mark Schefiele, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Adam Lowry could rebuild the foundation for a Cup-contention window.
Fast forward to present day and Cheveldayoff’s gamble failed miserably as Dubois’ agent Pat Brisson let the Jets know his client will not be interested in suiting up for Winnipeg next season. This whole ordeal perfectly sums up the last five seasons for the Jets; Cheveldayoff putting all his trust into what he’s built in Winnipeg, only for it to fall apart. Now he is going to have to see what he can get in return for Dubois as Winnipeg faces a retool or even a rebuild.
Dubois is coming off a year where he had 0.86 points per game (in 73 games), which puts him in the lower echelon for first-line centres. Furthermore, his GameScore data (a combination of a wide variety of stats such as goals, assists, expected goals, chances for, etc., that is formulated into a single metric) also puts him into that same tier. Being a low-end, first-line centre still means Dubois is a top-32 centre in the NHL and his trade return should reflect that. On top of that, he’s only 24 years old and has the potential to become even better if he’s motivated and wants to be with the team who acquires him. With that said, here are some mock trade offers that the Jets could receive for the disgruntled centre.
Trade Return Shouldn’t be a Low-Ball Offer
As previously mentioned, Dubois’ agent informed Cheveldayoff that Dubois is not going to play for the Jets next season. This doesn’t fully diminish Winnipeg’s leverage if they plan on trading him at or before the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. The Jets can tell the teams interested in him that they will be planning on filing for team-elected arbitration, which will prevent the option of an offer sheet (I am not saying the Jets will do that, but rather it means they don’t have to accept a low-ball offer for this reason).
Furthermore, Dubois can’t hold out all season as he would still be a restricted free agent (RFA) next summer if he did that. Lastly, an extremely important aspect in all of this is that it has been reported that Dubois is interested in going to five or six teams while also taking less money to play for a contender (from ‘What We’re Hearing on the Canadiens, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Carter Hart’, The Athletic, June 8, 2023). This opens up the possibility of driving up Dubois’ trade value immensely in the form of a bidding war.
Going Home to Montreal
To Montreal: Pierre-Luc Dubois and 18th-overall pick
To Winnipeg: Fifth-overall pick
A consolation prize of Matvei Michkov would help give the Jets fanbase some future hope as he projects to be a franchise-altering winger in the NHL. Montreal, on the other hand, wouldn’t have to worry about losing Dubois to another team in free agency in 2024. Now that Dubois has multiple teams he’s willing to go to, the Canadiens have to give up significant assets for a first-line centre of Dubois’ caliber or watch yet another French star have success somewhere else. If the Canadiens don’t want to do that, Winnipeg will just move on to the highest bidder.
Bidding War From Big-Market Teams
To Boston: Pierre-Luc Dubois
To Winnipeg: Boston’s 2025 first-round pick, Fabian Lysell, Derek Forbort and Mike Reilly
The Boston Bruins could potentially be in desperate need of a top-end centre if Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci decide to retire. Their prospect pool at the moment is a barren wasteland with Lysell being the only noteworthy player. Lysell projects to be a top-six winger once he develops, but he does have some holes in his game such as being a perimeter player. In order to get him in return, Winnipeg will take on a $6 million salary cap dump in the form of Forbort and Reilly (Note: Forbort does have a three-team no-trade clause, but due to his past experience in Winnipeg, I doubt this would be an issue).
Latest News & Highlights
Furthermore with Dylan Samberg’s emergence this past season as a future top-four defenseman, this would enable the Jets to trade grizzled veteran Brenden Dillon to a Cup-contending team for a nice return as well.
To Colorado: Pierre-Luc Dubois
To Winnipeg: Samuel Girard and Colorado’s 2025 third-round pick
The reason Girard is being discussed in trade discussions is that he is stapled behind Devon Toews and Bowen Byram on the left side of the defensive depth chart. This “hockey trade” would give the Jets a skilled defenseman who is under team control for the next four seasons. Girard is modern-day NHL defenseman who would be perfect playing second-pairing minutes behind Josh Morrissey where he could be a difference maker for the Jets.
From a Colorado aspect, it would give them a low-end, first-line centre to pair with Nathan McKinnon down the middle of the ice. Dubois would fill a gaping hole left by Nazem Kadri that was glaringly evident in the first round series loss to the Seattle Kraken.
New York Rangers
To New York: Pierre-Luc Dubois
To Winnipeg: Filip Chytil and the Rangers’ 2023 second-round pick
The Rangers currently don’t have a need for a first-line-centre as Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck are very solid options to fill the top-six. As a result, this mock proposal falls into the unlikely category. Still, it’s hard to ever rule the Rangers out completely as they are never going to shy away from improving their team with a player of Dubois’ caliber.
A return of Chytil and a draft pick would be a very solid return for the Jets as they try their hardest to “retool.” The 6-foot-2 centre is also signed for the next four seasons. For this reason, it’s very unlikely the Rangers trade a budding young centre who’s on a team-friendly deal for the foreseeable future. Chytil was an above average middle-six centre last season; with more ice time next season, it’s very easy to see him blossoming into a top-six mainstay.
To Minnesota: Pierre-Luc Dubois and Winnipeg’s third-round pick (82nd overall)
To Winnipeg: Marco Rossi, Minnesota’s first-round pick (21st overall) and Marcus Foligno
The Minnesota Wild have been a very late addition to the teams linked to Dubois and it makes sense. They have been looking for a first-line centre for years, maybe even a decade. This would help stabilize the Wild’s top-six and prevent them from having to choose one of Ryan Hartman, Sam Steel or Frederick Gaudreau to be Kirill Kaprizov’s centre. Rossi going the other way to Winnipeg would give the Jets a legitimate top centre prospect who, before a lacklustre 2022-23 season, was projected to be a two-way, top-six centre if developed properly. The potential is still there for Rossi but his trade value is a lot lower than it was a year ago.
The price may seem steep at first glance, but Foligno is a pure cap dump as there aren’t really any other moves to be made for Minnesota with $15 million in dead cap space from the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Rossi brings a lot of name value to the table, but his actual play this past season in the NHL was alarmingly mediocre. It’s probably the right time to give him a change of scenery as he will be 22 years old when the 2023-24 season starts. With the Wild’s contention window still open, having Dubois and Eriksson Ek as their one-two centre punch would offset any negative feelings from losing Rossi.
All Signs Point to a Solid Return
Dubois not being completely set on just going to Montreal could potentially be a huge game-changer for the Jets. A bidding war between five or six contenders is the best way for them to get the most value for the prolific French centre. With all this in mind, when does it become time to start questioning Cheveldayoff’s lack of asset management skills and how it all got to this in the first place? This could potentially be the third time since 2019 that he has been backed into a corner when dealing a star player (Jacob Trouba, Laine and now Dubois). However, a solid return in the forthcoming trade could help put Cheveldayoff back in Jets fans’ good books and kickstart a new era in Winnipeg.