The rumors around prospect center Pierre-Luc Dubois in Columbus went to another level head coach John Tortorella confirmed to a local radio station that Dubois “wanted out” combined to the fact he couldn’t tell for sure on how it will end. Tortorella had “his moments” with Dubois on the bench during the last playoff and one can imagine if the issue stems from that well-publicized moment.
“He needs to continue to do the things to help this team win and be the best teammate he can be, or I’m not sure where it goes,” Tortorella said. “It’s a situation and we’ll go to it day by day.”
if you look at the current circumstances, it will be a tough trade to make for the Blue Jackets and other teams serious on making an offer Kekalainen can’t refuse. All teams will be in a 56 games race, many teams at the salary cap limit with a Canada-US border closed. How hard can it be? Well, trade of this magnitude are hard to make in the most perfect conditions, so imagine now. Consider the 7 Canadian teams likely out of he equation. All of them would have to face a quarantine period for Dubois and the players lost in the trade would not be available to them either.
Reasons for Dubois to Leave and Salary
The big question unknown to many observers is why Dubois wants out? What is he looking for in another team. I am sure the other GMS know the reason and that will eliminate a few. As an example, we doubt a team like the Arizona Coyotes would be a team Dubois would want to go to. The other question is will the Jackets want to let him go this season when they can get his skills to make the playoffs and win now. Options for Kekalainen aren’t as bad, since he could opt for a team willing to offer him multiple draft choices and prospects. At 5 million AAV, Dubois is affordable for another two years but any team will have to make room for twice as much in two years.
Columbus should not fear to make a trade, if it is to distract his team. The Blue Jacket’s general manager will need to play this one wisely and not appear to be cornered but in a position of force. Dubois being signed for two years enables Kekalainen to take his time but to more selective.
Should Columbus move Dubois this year, he would be the most accomplished centreman to be traded under 23, since the Tyler Seguin trade from Boston Bruins to the Dallas Stars in 2013. A general manager with little risk may be the front runner to land Dubois. Teams like Chicago or Los Angeles may have the upperhand in getting P-L Dubois.
Place Where Dubois Could End Up
As mentioned earlier a trade with blue chip prospects as the main focus is a colossal task. Finding the best teams will not be easy. All 30 teams will come knocking’ but the needs of the Blue Jackets will be in the end what might prevail. You can bet that Kekalainen will ask for another center, as part of the package, also a first round pick, preferably from a team destined to finish in the bottom third of the standings. What teams might fit in this puzzle? Four U.S. teams come to mind: Los Angeles, Chicago, Anaheim and Detroit. On the north side of the border, we see three teams making a valiant effort. They are Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa.
In the U.S.
In LA, a franchise player to take over from Anze Kopitar on offense is welcomed along with Quinton Byfield. They have also Alex Turcotte and right wing Arthur Kaliyev who did very well recently at the World Junior Championship. Los Angeles has the space under the cap could end up in the bottom third in the league in 2021. This gives an excellent choice for 2021 and possible 2022.
Chicago with the loss of Jonathan Toews may be active in pursuing Dubois. Toews return to the roster is unknown and could be a for the remainder of the season. After years of winning, Chicago will be active in restoring their winning attitude from the last decade. Anaheim and Detroit could end up as possible suitors. Detroit, a legendary franchise led by GM, Steve Yzerman could be a possibility for Detroit to explore. Detroit’s first round pick in 2021 will likely be in the top 5, so why not! The only issue in Detroit is the lack prospects Yzerman will be stocking up on. Anaheim is another option with a few prospects coming up the ranks like Trevor Zegras. Look for Anaheim to also end in the bottom of the standings which would give Columbus an excellent pick at the next NHL draft.
As for one of the 7 Canadian times, chances are very slim, it will happen. As mentioned above, the border closed and the quarantine in a 56 games season makes it very risky and challenging. Three teams could develop an interest for P_L Dubois. Starting with Winnipeg, they could offer Patrick Laine in exchange but Columbus will need another center and that makes the trade harder to make. Winnipeg would love to add a no.t center to support Mark Scheifele in the no.2 spot.
Finally Ottawa could be an option but a harder one to make. What makes this option possible is the numerous prospects the Ottawa Senators have they could trade for. Anticipate Columbus would ask for Brady Tkachuk as the main player to be part of that trade. The Senators have a plethora of draft picks which could be moved.
Needless to say the mystery of where Pierre-Luc Dubois could end up playing for, is and will be on-going this year.
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