It’s official: Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out of Winnipeg.
Earlier this week, Pierre Lebrun broke the news that the power forward’s agent informed the Jets his client doesn’t want to sign an extension this summer — not even a one-year bridge — and wants a trade to another team.
This came as no big surprise based on Dubois’ lukewarmness toward Winnipeg, unwillingness to sign a long-term deal last summer, and past comments about wanting to play for the Montreal Canadiens and wanting to test the open market as a unrestricted free agent (UFA) in 2024.
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After setting a career high in points, interest in the centre will surely be heavy, but it’s less sure when he’ll be traded or where (while the Canadiens remain the clear front-runner, there are plenty of other potential destinations.)
However, now that any notion of Dubois remaining a Jet is dead, it’s time to look at the various ways the situation could play out.
1: Dubois is Traded Before the 2023 Draft
The best route for Cheveldayoff may be to rip the bandaid off fast and end the saga before it becomes more of a distraction than it’s already been over the past year.
Dubois, with his heady mixture of skill and physicality, is an asset for Cheveldayoff as he is someone many teams would like to build around, but will be a diminishing asset as time goes on.
Trading Dubois before the 2023 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville on June 28-29 would allow 2023 picks to be in play and give Cheveldayoff the earliest available chance to begin restocking for the retool that’s desperately needed after yet another early playoff exit.
2: Dubois Is Traded During the 2023 Offseason
If Cheveldayoff doesn’t find a deal he likes before the Draft, he should be working the phones all offseason to trade Dubois before training camp.
It’s not quite “Habs or bust” for Dubois at this point as he and his agent are reportedly willing to work with Cheveldayoff by submitting a list of five or six teams he might be willing to sign long-term with. The Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers have specifically been mentioned by some pundits.
While Cheveldayoff could try to get a bidding war going between the Canadiens, Rangers, and Wild, he is not in a position of strength. Dubois’ adamance to test the open market as a UFA puts a limit on potential return, as most teams don’t want to give up a lot for a player who is probably going to be a one-year rental.
Even the Canadiens, still in the beginning stages of a rebuild, don’t have to give up an A-plus package knowing they can sign him as a UFA next summer.
3: Dubois Is Offer-Sheeted by the Canadiens in the 2023 Offseason
Canadiens GM Kent Hughes could extend Dubois an offer sheet after July 1. If Dubois accepted an offer sheet, Cheveldayoff would either have to match the offer or walk away and receive compensation.
Offer-sheet compensation depends on how high an average annual value a team offers. For example, if the Canadiens offered $6 million — what Dubois made on his one-year deal this season — they’d have to give the Jets a first-round and third-round pick. However, Dubois wants $9 million per year according to recent reporting from The Athletic (the compensation for a $9 million offer sheet would be two first-rounders, a second-rounder, and a third-rounder, a very steep price.)
Matching the offer to keep Dubois under Jets’ control wouldn’t be an option for Cheveldayoff, because under the terms of the CBA, he wouldn’t be allowed trade Dubois within the next calendar year. That would take Dubois to UFA status, meaning he would walk for nothing next summer.
4: Dubois Is Not Traded In The Offseason, Holds Out, and Is Traded Prior to Dec. 1
If Cheveldayoff doesn’t find a deal he likes or fails to offer suitors a deal they like before training camp, Dubois would have no choice but to sit to begin the season.
In this situation, Cheveldayoff would have to make a qualifying offer as a formality to prevent Dubois from becoming a UFA, because if an RFA declines a qualifying offer (like Dubois would) they remain an RFA.
Related: 5 Pierre-Luc Dubois Mock Trades
Since Dubois would still be under Jets control and won’t re-sign, it’d technically be a holdout on the part of the player — the first since Jacob Trouba held out as an RFA in 2016.
While this may seem like Karma to Jets fans — “you don’t want to play for us? Have fun playing nowhere and making nothing!” — it’d present a precarious, time-sensitive position for Cheveldayoff.
Holdouts make players look petulant. Some potential suitors may reassess whether they need a player who wants out of his second market in jus three-and-a-half years — no matter how talented — worrying he may want out of their market in just a few years, too. Remember, the only reason Dubois became a Jet in the first place is because he wanted out of Columbus.
Since Dubois won’t play for the Jets, there isn’t the option for Cheveldayoff sign him to a one-year deal and trade him near the Trade Deadline when his value would be high. At that time of the season, Stanley Cup contenders often trade for pure rentals, even those they know aren’t likely to re-sign long term.
Cheveldayoff would have to trade Dubois before Dec.1 to a team he’s willing to sign with, because if RFAs don’t have a contract before that date, they are ineligible to play for the season.
Offer sheets from other teams could also come in during this period.
5: Dubois Is Not Traded At All Walks For Nothing as a UFA
We have already explored the two scenarios in which Dubois would walk for nothing as a UFA: matching an offer sheet or failing to trade him prior to Dec. 1.
Losing Dubois for nothing would be a complete disaster, and it would cast even more doubt that Cheveldayoff — who has been Jets’ GM since relocation and built teams who have only won three playoff series in 12 seasons — should be the man calling the shots going forward. This is the third time since 2019 he has been backed into a corner and forced to trade a disgruntled star (Trouba, Patrik Laine and now Dubois.)
Even though Dubois has Cheveldayoff in a bind, it’d be best for the GM to act as fast as he can and get as much as he can for a player who, at his best, is a nightmare for opponents to deal with and a true top-six talent.