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Kekalainen Dismisses Dubois’ Exit, Hints Preference Was to Draft Laine

Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen doesn’t seem heartbroken over trading Pierre-Luc Dubois, hinting he wanted to draft Laine anyways.

The big trade that sent Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-round pick in 2022 to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic was a blockbuster deal, to say the least. Three disgruntled players are moving to new destinations and these moves will heavily impact each team, both in the short-term and long-term. The moves might not be over for the Jets or the Blue Jackets, but at least one GM is extremely happy with his haul.

Related: Jets Trade Laine & Roslovic to Blue Jackets for Dubois & Third-Round Pick

Don’t expect Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to blink when it comes to talking about Dubois’ exit from the organization. In fact, while the GM didn’t necessarily crack a smile, he did seem enthused about the work he’d managed to accomplish on Saturday, he said he’d been working on the deal for a while and he’s certainly not crying over spilled milk because it sounds like this is what he wanted all along.

Kekalainen Isn’t Focused on Dubois

While fans and players in Winnipeg are taking time on Saturday to remember Laine and his impact on the Jets roster since being drafted in 2016, the Blue Jackets seem ready to move on rather quickly with Dubois out of the picture. When asked for comment on the deal, Kekalainen seemed to hint this was a trade he was more than happy to make and that he doesn’t regret putting time and effort into developing Dubois only to move him.

Perhaps, part of this is that the Blue Jackets didn’t have time to think about things. The team immediately found themselves on Saturday afternoon playing a game against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning — a game they happened to win. More than that though, this was a messy situation and Kekalainen was happy to clean it up.

This Is About Laine and Roslovic

When asked about acquiring Laine, the Blue Jackets GM said this was something he’s wanted to do for some time and back in 2016 tried to move up to draft the player. That particular draft saw Laine go No. 2 and Dubois go No. 3, but Kekalainen noted that he would have given a lot to move up from the third to the second spot at that draft. It didn’t work out.

That he was able to pull the deal off today — more than four years later — he said it wasn’t “bitter sweet at all.” He added, “We are excited to have Patrik Laine join us and there is a price to be paid for an elite player.”

He also said this is a lot about Jack Roslovic. Kekalainen noted, “I think Jack Roslovic is going to be a huge part of this whole trade.” He added, “Every time we have had any trade talks with Winnipeg I have asked them about Jack Roslovic.”

Pierre-Luc Dubois Blue Jackets NHL, traded to Winnipeg Jets

Pressure Is On Dubois Now

Unlike Laine who was playing well before he went down with an injury after the first game of the season, Dubois’ play was eroding with every game he was in and with almost every shift he played. Everything came to a head in the first game of the Blue Jackets’ match up against the Lightning.

It was clear Dubois was sulking, giving as little effort as possible. That problem is now gone for the coach, the GM and the distraction that was a Dubois trade is now behind the team.

It will be interesting to see how Dubois reacts in Winnipeg. The center was rumored to want a bigger stage and a different market in which to play. We’re not sure Winnipeg will be exactly what Dubois was looking for.

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