Montreal Canadiens: Nick Suzuki and Co can finally move on from JLD

Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

In the NHL, the NBA, or even the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (aka NASCAR), even the best teams can get bogged down by external rumors.

As much as a coaching staff would like to isolate their team from the outside world and keep things internally focused on the task at hand, there are times where that simply isn’t possible. No, whether it’s viral buzz on social media, the written word in article form (hey), or whatever the heck Shaq was doing when told Donovan Mitchell he “doesn’t have what it takes” on TNT, it’s only natural for players to be firmly in the know about what folks are talking about in regards to their team, their own future, and the futures of their teammates.

For members of the Montreal Canadiens, the specter that’s hung over the Bell Centre is none other than Ste-Agathe-Des-Monts’ favorite son, Pierre-Luc Dubois.

After being benched in an eventual loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning for ‘performance reasons,’ it felt like only a matter of time before PLD would be putting his days with the Columbus Bue Jackets behind him to start a new chapter elsewhere. Would that new home be his old one in Quebec? Well, some sincerely hoped so, not the least of which was Dubois and (presumably) his family.

Long considered the third-overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft’s preferred destination, Montreal reportedly did have some contacts with the Blue Jackets, with Columbus commanding a package including ascending center Nick Suzuki and additional assets to get a deal done.

Well, fortunately for fans of the Habs, that didn’t happen. PLD is now officially a member of the Winnipeg Jets after being traded for Patrick Laine and Jack Roslovic, and the Canadiens? Well, they get to continue on as arguably the best young team in an incredibly entertaining North Division.

The Montreal Canadiens can finally move past Pierre-Luc Dubois rumors.

More from Puck Prose

While the idea of the Montreal Canadiens finally bringing Pierre-Luc Dubois home has remained a borderline obsession for a small but vocal minority of the team’s fanbase, the idea never really made a ton of sense in 2020-21.

The aforementioned Nick Suzuki has continued to progress forward as one of the more exciting young puck distributors in the NHL and has proven himself a near-indispensable player for a team who is most certainly headed to the playoffs for the second straight year under Claude Julien.

Through the Habs’ first six games of action, Suzuki ranks third in points and has the rare distinction of having scored a point in every game he’s appeared in. He’s leading the team in ATOI at 17:33, has the third most assists of any player at four, and just looks like a more experienced, mature player than at the start of his rookie season some 15 months ago.

While Suzuki may never have a 27 goal season like PLD during his sophomore campaign, there’s little reason to believe he can’t become a regular 50 point performer as soon as next season – or whenever the league goes back an 82 game format – with a few years of 60-plus sprinkled in for good measure.

And honestly, Suzuki isn’t alone.

No, the Canadiens as a whole already look like the juggernaut of the North, with players experienced and fresh-faced all performing well above expectations. Long-time Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli is off to a great start in his first season with the Habs – leading the team in points thanks in no small part to a hat trick in a loss to his former team, the Vancouver Canucks – and Jeff Petry might just be the best defenseman casual NHL fans have never heard of.

Heck, even Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the third overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, has taken steps forward in his third professional season and looks like the kind of player it would be unwise to move off of at the tender age of 20.

Throw that all in a skillet with some cheese curds and a heaping helping of brown gravy, and it’s not hard to see why Habs GM Marc Bergevin opted against blowing it all up in favor of a chance to make millions off of red, white, and blue Dubois number 18 jerseys.

Next. Grading the blockbuster Laine, Dubois trade between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets. dark

Did the Montreal Canadiens make the right move in keeping their young core intact? Will they regret allowing Pierre-Luc Debois to join the Winnipeg Jets as they hoist a cup in the not too distant future? Sure, anything is possible, but something tells me that won’t be the case. No, the Montreal Canadiens are a really, really good team right now who will just get better as their young core ages up. Why risk that chemistry for a fleeting chance at a future that may not outpace the present?