When Pierre-Luc Dubois seemingly coerced himself out of Columbus in a trade for Patrik Laine, speculation was that a rift existed between Dubois and then-Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella. Both sides said that wasn’t the case and while no one believed them, a new report suggests both were being honest.
On January 23, 2021, the Jets traded forward Patrik Laine and forward Jack Roslovic to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for center Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 2022 third-round draft pick. Dubois wasn’t working out in Columbus and Laine was struggling in Winnipeg. The trade was seen as a blockbuster move, as both Laine and Dubois were highly touted young forwards with loads of potential. Giving each a new place to shine felt like a winning idea for each organization.
Laine, who was drafted second overall by the Jets in 2016 has gone on to have an on-again, off-again tenure in Columbus. Sometimes he’s fantastic, and other times he’s a shadow of the rookie that was so highly touted and had scored 140 goals and 110 assists in 306 games with Winnipeg.
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Dubois, who was drafted third overall by Columbus in 2016, had scored 66 goals and 93 assists in 239 games with the Blue Jackets and struggled early on with the Jets. Part of the issue was that many felt he didn’t want to be there. Reports were that his heart with was the Montreal Canadiens and that, eventually, he would wind up with the Habs, his stay in Winnipeg being only temporary.
It wasn’t taking long for Dubois to develop a bit of a reputation. He’d successfully worked his way out of Columbus and it sounded like he was using the leverage he had as an RFA with arbitration rights to work his way out of Winnipeg. What was going on? Why was Dubois so unwilling to make it work in the cities he was drafted and then traded?
Dubois Felt Like He Was Shafted By the Blue Jackets
Currently, things are working half-decently in Winnipeg. The team is battling hard against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of their playoff matchup. Vegas is the favorite and the belief is that the Jets will go home early, probably making some big changes in the offseason. Many think it’s still a given that Dubois will eventually wind up in Montreal. But, why was he so quick to get out of Columbus?
The answer apparently is, he felt like the Blue Jackets intentionally derailed his quest to get to Montreal.
While appearing on The Sick Podcast with Tony Marinaro, The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline said Dubois may have turned his back on the Blue Jackets because they were positioning themselves to match an offer sheet from the Montreal Canadiens. When Dubois was first positioned to sign with the team as an RFA, it sounds like his hope was that letting the Blue Jackets know he’d like to be traded to the Canadiens would lead to a deal. The Canadiens wanted him and were prepared to tender an offer sheet in the summer if a trade never materialized. Columbus knew this, so they made a couple of trades to ensure they had the cap space necessary to match any offer and screw Dubois out of ever becoming a Canadien.
Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen made two trades in the final hours before the free-agent market opened that year and it sounds like Dubois might have taken that personally. He felt it was done to make sure that the Blue Jackets could match a long-term offer by Montreal and that would keep Dubois a Blue Jackets asset for years. It stopped the pending offer sheet in its tracks and with it, Montreal’s active interest in the forward. The Habs knew if they didn’t drastically overpay for Dubois, they wouldn’t get him and they knew if they offered fair value, they wouldn’t get him either. They elected to revisit the idea of Dubois becoming a member of their team well down the line.
Portzline explained that the thing about offer sheets is that, as the team holding onto a player who is about to receive one, you typically don’t want your players to sign them and be stuck with only the compensation that comes with the salary rates. Not only that, but you want to make any team considering an offer think you have the ability and willingness to match. Columbus scared Montreal off and Portzline believes the relationship changed between Dubois and the Jackets’ management soured as a result.
From that point on, Dubois immediately made it clear he would never stay long-term in Columbus and that led to the trade with Winnipeg.
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