The Winnipeg Jets’ 2020-21 season was full of ups and downs and ended with a second-round sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. In this series, we’ll take a look back on the season, player by player, and grade their individual performances with an eye toward their future with the team.
It was a disappointing debut season for PIerre-Luc Dubois, the player acquired in a blockbuster trade that sent Finnish phenom Patrik Laine to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Dubois Showed Flashes of Brilliance, but Was More Often Invisible
The main idea in the Jets trading for Dubois back in January was to have a player at their disposal who could drive play in a top-six role, add even more offensive firepower to the top six, and take some of the pressure off the top line.
The 2016 third-overall pick did show some flashes of brilliance and the skill that has netted him as many as 61 points in a season.
But more often than not, he was ineffective and invisible. In 41 games, he recorded eight goals and 12 assists, but all 20 of his points came in just 13 games. He was also a minus-6 and finished the season on a 24-game goalless streak.
Dubois Never Got into a Rhythm
Prior to joining the Jets, Dubois had to quarantine for two weeks due to Canada’s strict COVID-19 rules for people arriving from out-of-country.
That meant 14 days not working out other than in his living room, 14 days not skating at all, 14 days not getting to interact with his new teammates in person, and 14 days not getting to learn the Jets’ systems except through video. When he was finally allowed to make his debut on Feb. 9, he played just two games before being injured and missing four.
Dubois never had consistent line mates, often being shuffled between centre and wing. He played on the wing with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, at centre between between Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers, and at centre between Paul Stastny and Wheeler, among other assignments.
He then suffered another injury in the Jets’ second-last game of the regular season, which forced him to sit out the first two playoff games against the Edmonton Oilers.
Dubois Whiffed on Big Opportunity in Playoffs
The most disappointing part of Dubois’ season was his playoff performance. He was given a huge chance to step up and make an impact in the second round after Mark Scheifele was suspended four games for charging Jake Evans in Game 1.
The Jets were undoubtedly hoping the Dubois of the 2020 Edmonton Bubble — the Dubois who torched the Toronto Maple Leafs and recorded 10 points in 10 games — would emerge and make up for the scoring prowess lost when Scheifele was handed down such a harsh suspension.
But Dubois whiffed on the opportunity and recorded zero points in the three games sans Scheifele and the only time he was notable during the sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens was when he was taking undisciplined penalties. He was so poor many people simply assumed he was playing injured.
Dubois Knows He Has to Be Better
In the Jets’ end-of-season media availability, Dubois denied rumours that an injury was impacting his game, and placed the blame for his subpar play squarely on his own shoulders.
“The only person to blame is me,” he said, adding that he didn’t play nearly as well as he should have or knows he can.
“It wasn’t easy. When you get to a new team, you want to fit in, you want it to be the perfect fit,” he admitted. “For me, it was kind of hard finding what that was. I had a hard time trying to define what I can do. At the end of the day it’s our job to be the best players we can be and help our team win… at the end of the day you only have yourself to blame.”
But Dubois also said that one disappointing year does not define him, and he still has confidence in himself. He said the summer will be big for him to get back on track.
Dubois is by no means a bust at 23 years old, but the Jets need much more from him next season. Hopefully with a fresh start and a campaign that doesn’t involve any isolation periods or injuries, he can become a consistent point producer and show it wasn’t a mistake to send Laine packing. On the last year of his contract, he will be under close scrutiny.
Final Grade: C-
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.