It appears as though we are on the cusp of witnessing Pierre-Luc Dubois finally being granted his wish by being traded out of Columbus, and it does seem as though we could be treated to an absolute blockbuster deal between the Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets involving Patrik Laine.
Per Darren Dreger of TSN, the Columbus Blue Jackets are edging closer to trading their want-away star with the Winnipeg Jets among the teams that have been told they are still in with a chance, while Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and TSN has also reported that the Anaheim Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens are also both very much in on the Dubois sweepstakes.
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It comes after Dubois was benched for the majority of the Blue Jackets’ Overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, finishing with just 3:55 of ice time which was the lowest of his career 239 NHL games. Now, the forward did come out and say all the right things after the game in that he needs to be better but we know Columbus Head Coach John Tortorella doesn’t suffer fools, so the fact that a trade now seems imminent shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
It has been reported that Dubois, who has 159 points (66 G, 93 A) in 239 career NHL games, will be a healthy scratch for the Blue Jackets’ afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, even if a trade isn’t completed by then.
However, while the potential of swapping one unhappy player in Pierre-Luc Dubois for another in Patrik Laine does appear to make sense on the surface, it is a lot more complicated than that for the two teams involved in the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets. Allow us to explain…
Why swapping Pierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine isn’t a surefire home run
Of course, the Winnipeg Jets would be gaining an exceptional player in Pierre-Luc Dubois who boasts tremendous upside and the Columbus Blue Jackets would be getting one of the most potent snipers in the NHL in Patrik Laine, and perhaps another high-end forward in Jack Roslovic who also wants out of Winnipeg.
Dubois could slot in as the Jets’ long-term second-line center, providing a lethal one-two punch behind Mark Scheifele and adding depth to that lineup with veteran pivot Paul Stastny sliding down to the third-line. Also, Dubois’ father, Eric, is the Assistant Coach for the Manitoba Moose, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Jets.
Now, there is some thought out there that Dubois, who is French-Canadian, would prefer to land with the Montreal Canadiens who are one of three teams believed to be in the driving seat for the Blue Jackets forward, but while not a huge market, the Winnipeg Jets are a proud franchise steeped in rich hockey history and they will have this season and the 2021-22 season to persuade Dubois to sign a long-term deal with the franchise.
Where the concern in this potential trade lies is with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Patrik Laine, however. While the Jack Roslovic portion of this deal makes perfect sense given that the 23-year-old is a Columbus native and has remained in Ohio having not signed a new deal with the Jets, there is plenty to worry about when it comes to Laine’s long-term intentions.
After all, one of the best pure goalscorers in the National Hockey League requested a trade out of Winnipeg last season and is believed to want to move to a much bigger market, which Columbus isn’t and that’s been the main driving force behind the likes of Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene and Sergei Bobrovsky leaving the Blue Jackets in order to sign with other teams in Free Agency in recent years.
Plus, a Restricted Free Agent after this season, Laine would demand a huge pay rise on the $6,750,000 AAV he currently commands given that he hasn’t dipped below the 50-point mark in each of his first four seasons in the NHL and he’s also scored 36 goals, 44 goals, 30 goals and 28 goals since being drafted No. 2 overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Granted, the Blue Jackets will have room under the cap to sign Laine to a big extension almost immediately while being able to also sign Roslovic to a new deal should he be a part of any trade too, given that they are projected to have around $21 million in cap space next offseason according to CapFriendly, so they could wait until then to get an extension done which would give General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen some time to persuade Laine that Columbus is the best place for him to continue his hockey career long-term.
However, if it is indeed Laine’s wish to play in a more lavish and more renowned hockey market, than it is likely that he won’t be interested in signing a new contract with the Blue Jackets and would instead wish to pursue a move elsewhere in the offseason, which would leave the Blue Jackets in the unfortunate position of losing a huge piece of the trade that they gave up so much for.
Because, while Pierre-Luc Dubois is a uber-talented two-way center with huge upside, it is possible the Columbus Blue Jackets may have to give up more sweeteners if they wish to acquire both Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, so you would think that Kekalainen would want some assurances from Laine’s camp that he would at least have some interest in signing long-term in Columbus before pulling the trigger on any trade.
There is no doubt that Laine, who has 250 points (140 G, 110 A) in 306 career NHL games for the Winnipeg Jets but is currently on Injured Reserve, would be a tremendous get for the Columbus Blue Jackets but there is plenty of concern over whether or not the player would be truly happy in that market because, let’s face it, plenty of big stars before him haven’t been.
So, while a trade that would swap one unhappy star in Pierre-Luc Dubois for another in Patrik Laine makes perfect sense on the surface, there is a lot of complicated kinks for the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets to iron out before this trade is signed, sealed and delivered. But it will be a highly-interesting one to keep an eye on.