There was a lot to digest on Thursday when it came to news surrounding restricted free agent forward Pierre-Luc Dubois. First, reports surfaced Thursday morning that Dubois wanted a change of scenery. The Internet went crazy, many surprised by the reports considering the last word from all sides was that a deal might still get done. Hours later, the deal was done — a two-year, $10 million bridge contract.
Hours after that, more news is surfacing, this time in respect to how Dubois feels about the Blue Jackets, his standing with them and if he still wants to leave. All of this despite signing a new deal. Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, while neither side would officially confirm the reports, speculation is that Dubois has settled on the fact that, at some point during this new two-year deal, he’d like to be moved.
According to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, it was during the process of Dubois fielding interest from other teams — something he’s allowed to do as an RFA — that he realized he’d like to play elsewhere. Portzline writes:
As a restricted free agent, Dubois was allowed to speak with other NHL franchises since free agency began on Oct. 9. Dubois did not sign an offer sheet, but the Blue Jackets were extremely wary of one, which is why they traded defensemen Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara at liquidation prices on the eve of free agency.
During those conversations, “Dubois’ desire to leave Columbus was made clear.”
At this point, the Blue Jackets can only hope that Dubois has a wonderful 2020-21 season, changes his mind and things can back to normal. Unfortunately, in Columbus, the history of that sort of thing happening is not good.
Others Have Felt the Dubois Treatment
In 2014, center Ryan Johansen went through a nasty negotiation with GM Jarmo Kekäläinen — a GM who has a history of holing RFA’s to the fire. Their relationship never rebounded and he was eventually traded for defenseman Seth Jones. The trade turned out to be a huge winner for Columbus, but had the two sides not have had their spat, that trade never would have occurred.
It happened again with right winger Josh Anderson. A rough negotiation in 2017 led to Anderson being traded to Montreal for Max Domi during this offseason.
Probably Why Columbus Was Pushing for a Long-Term Deal
Reports were that the Blue Jackets wanted Dubois on a long-term deal while the player had no interest in committing. It makes sense now considering it’s been known for some time that Dubois feels like his future isn’t with the Blue Jackets organization.
Now, the belief is that Kekäläinen will test the market for a trade and use as much time as it takes to get the best return. He’s got roughly two years.
In the end, Dubois didn’t commit but he did sign. That gives both sides options and the player will return and join the team in 2020-21. All that said, the drama seems far from over.
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