Montreal Canadiens: What Is a Realistic Trade Package For Pierre-Luc Dubois?

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 19: Pierre-Luc Dubois (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 19: Pierre-Luc Dubois (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens centres have long lacked behind their counterparts in the National Hockey League.

Dating back to the time Rejean house thought it was a great idea to trade away Pierre Turgeon for aging veterans and Vincent Damphousse for draft picks, the Habs depth down the middle has not been great.

Their centennial season they patched together solid depth with Saku Koivu, Tomas Plekanec, Robert Lang and Maxim Lapierre, but Lang was injured halfway through the year and suddenly Glen Metropolit was picked up on waivers and being used on the power play.

This problem has needed to be addressed for decades, and general manager Marc Bergevin appears to have done that. He drafted Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the third overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, he traded depth pieces Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise for Phillip Danault back in 2016, and he traded Max Pacioretty for a terrific package that was headlined by Nick Suzuki.

Finally, the team appears to have solid depth down the middle with Suzuki, Danault and Kotkaniemi.

At the same time, the mythical creature that the Canadiens have long desired appears to be available on the trade market. A big, young, two-way, physical and high scoring centre is on the trade market. It was previously believed such a player would never hit the trade market, but not only is he there now, but he is French to boot.

Pierre-Luc Dubois was the third overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Columbus Blue Jackets surprised everyone in attendance when they picked the French Canadian forward instead of right winger Jesse Puljujarvi.

Dubois played another dominant season of Junior for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, then joined the Blue Jackets as a 19 year old. He was given a desirable assignment, centering the top line with Artemi Panarin on his wing. Dubois scored 20 goals and 48 points in 82 games as a rookie. He followed that up with 27 goals and 61 points in 82 games. Then, without Panarin last season, he scored 18 goals and 49 points in 70 games.

Dubois was great for the Blue Jackets in last year’s postseason, scoring four goals and ten points in ten games.

The Ste-Agathe-des-Monts native is still just 22 years old and at 6’3″ and 218 pounds he brings plenty of physicality and grit to go with his offence. He projects to be a two-way force in the Ryan O’Reilly mould.

All this to say he is the type of players a team usually hangs on to for a long time if they are fortunate enough to have him. However, Dubois has stated, and his head coach has confirmed that he wants out of Columbus.

He recently signed a two-year contract extension with a $5 million cap hit, but it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be a Blue Jacket when that contract expires.

There have been plenty of rumours that the Canadiens are among the teams expressing interest in acquiring the player who grew up about an hour’s drive from the Bell Centre.

But what would it take to get Dubois in a Habs sweater?

I’m guessing a conversation between Bergevin and Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen would start something like this:

“Can we have Suzuki?”


“What about Romanov?”

“Not a chance.”

“Okay. We’ll call everyone else in the league and then circle back… maybe.”

Then, if Kekalainen doesn’t get a terrific offer from the Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Anaheim Ducks or New York Rangers, he will call Bergevin back and ask about Kotkaniemi.

Top five picks like Dubois don’t get traded often, especially in their early twenties, but when they do it’s usually for another recent top five pick.

Seth Jones was traded for Ryan Johansen. Both were 4th overall picks. Taylor Hall was a 1st overall pick and was traded for Adam Larsson who was a 4th overall pick. Jonathan Drouin was taken 3rd overall and was traded for 9th overall pick Mikhail Sergachev. Nail Yakupov was a 1st overall pick and he was dealt for a ….conditional 3rd ROUND pick….

Dubois isn’t Yakupov. So it’s going to take a player with a similarly high ceiling like Kotkaniemi.

Two years after being drafted, Dubois scored 20 goals and 47 points. Two years after being drafted, Kotkaniemi scored six goals and eight points in 36 NHL games. He looked better at the AHL level after that and looked much improved in the NHL postseason as well as during a shirt stint in Finland to begin this season, but Kotkaniemi hasn’t proven as much at the NHL level as Dubois has at this point in their careers.

If the Blue Jackets are willing to build a trade around Kotkaniemi, they will want plenty more added due to the fact Dubois has shown more at the NHL level. They would also have to take on some money as the Habs are tight up against the cap and can’t fit Dubois’ $5 million without moving money out.

The Blue Jackets are going to want a top prospect like Kaiden Guhle or Mattias Norlinder added in since they would be taking on more risk. Kotkaniemi has a lot of potential, but Dubois is already a first line centre, while we think Kotkaniemi will be this season, but we can’t say for sure just yet.

So, what’s a realistic package that takes into account what the Blue Jackets would actually want and the salary cap relates?

With Dubois trade request out in the open, Kekalainen is fortunate to get a big centre with as high of a ceiling as Kotkaniemi. That would still be taking on some risk, as Kotkaniemi isn’t proven yet, so he gets a great defence prospect as well.

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To help balance the money, but also because he is a solid NHL player, the Blue Jackets get Paul Byron in the deal as well. I don’t think Columbus quite hits the home run that the Colorado Avalanche did in the Matt Duchene trade, but Kotkaniemi, Guhle and Byron is quite the haul for a player who publicly stated he wants out.