The Winnipeg Jets are playing solid hockey and Pierre-Luc Dubois is producing. With 51 points in 49 games, the center is one of the reasons the Jets now sit second in the Western Conference with 63 points and look to make the playoffs after a disappointing run in 2021-22. But, according to NHL insider Nick Kypreos, none of that matters when it comes to Dubois’ future in Winnipeg.
Kypreos appeared on Tim and Friends on Jan. 17. and insisted that Dubois isn’t likely to stay in Winnipeg for the long term, no matter how the team performs this season. “There is nothing that can change his mind from what I’m hearing,” he explained. Noting that NHL insiders would be talking a lot more often about Dubois as a potential trade piece this season if the Jets weren’t playing so well, Kypreos noted that even a Stanley Cup won’t get him to stick around, despite new head coach Rick Bowness’ best efforts.
As a result, it’s likely the Jets are in a situation where they’ll have to explore a trade. It’s not a deal likely to happen this season, but it could go down this summer, and potentially around the time of the NHL Entry Draft.
Fans in Calgary Know All About This Kind of Situation
As per Luke Fox of Sportsnet, “Dubois’ situation most resembles that of Matthew Tkachuk in Calgary last season: playoff-bound team, star player, only one more year of club control.” He adds, “GM Kevin Cheveldayoff must find the best trade possible this summer if a long-term extension cannot be reached quickly.”
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It wasn’t long ago that Tkachuk was a pending RFA and knew that he wasn’t going to sign long-term with the Flames. He let the team know of his intentions to move on and GM Brad Treliving had little choice but to get the best return possible for a player the organization would have never otherwise moved. The Jets don’t want to trade Dubois. But, if he knows he’s leaving and will likely do so as soon as he becomes a UFA, what choice do the Jets have?
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The only logical option seems to be to get what you can for the player when the getting is good. And, if Dubois finishes at a point-per-game clip, there will be interested teams.
Can the Jets Do What the Flames Did?
The jury is still out on whether the Flames won their trade with the Florida Panthers, but early responses to the deal were positive. Aa good as Thackuk is, many were shocked the Panthers would give up both Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar in a trade for one player. The Flames quickly signed both. The Jets can only hope to find another team willing to do the same.
At this stage, Dubois is not Tkachuk. But, if he keeps up his point production, he’ll be around 85 points at the end of the season and that’s a valuable player, especially at the young age of 24. Dubois is in his prime and will be an impact player for many years. Any team making a deal for him knows they are getting a first-line center with, at worst, the ability to play a 1B role on a contending team. How many teams are out there looking for that kind of asset? The answer is a lot.
Are the Montreal Canadiens That Team?
Sources have linked Dubois to the Montreal Canadiens for a couple of seasons now. Trade talk has slowed with the Jets playing so well, but Kypreos says that the Habs are likely where he ends up. The question will be, ‘Are the Canadiens willing to make the deal this summer? Or, will they wait until he’s a UFA and sign him as a free agent, giving up nothing in return?’ In other words, if Montreal is as interested in Dubois as he seems to be in them, is this a marriage that should happen right away?
Understanding the argument that Montreal shouldn’t overpay for a player they’re likely to get anyways, there’s some risk for the Canadiens in trying to do the latter. First, the Jets will likely trade Dubois. He holds no trade protection in his contract, thus he could be moved virtually anywhere. And, while rumors of Tkachuk wanting to go to St. Louis because he was from the area were everywhere, he wound up being pleased as punch to sign in Florida. He did so for eight years, something only Florida could do because they held his rights.
So too, the Canadiens need to determine the future of their organization and if/when they want to bring Dubois in. Are they looking to compete right away? Or, if Dubois remains eligible for free agency in the summer of 2024, are they happy enough to wait one more season before making their big move? They certainly could wait, but there are reasons to move sooner than later.
The Habs won’t give up Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield in a Dubois trade. That much is clear. But, with Caufield needing a new deal, the Habs are looking to move money now and the Jets could find a couple of useful players from that roster than will help ease the sting that comes with losing Dubois. Specifically, Winnipeg might be able to nab Kirby Dach, while also focusing on a young defenseman to bolster the blue line. Could the Jets acquire Dach and a potential future top-four blueliner?
Again, this trade is starting to look awfully like what Calgary pulled off with the Panthers. Then again, maybe it’s just me and the Canadiens know something everyone else doesn’t. Maybe the Canadiens aren’t even sold that Dubois is their guy.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”