Montreal Canadiens: Is Pierre-Luc Dubois Going To Pull a John Tavares?

Jun 7, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Carey Price Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Carey Price Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens truly have a difficult time attracting free agents. It would be wise not to expect any big signings here on July 13th as the top-of-the-pile players always seems to find reasons to sign elsewhere.

Blame it on the weather, or the tax situation, or the language barrier, but top free agents always seem more keen on signing in Florida, Texas, California or Vegas rather than Montreal. It is a beautiful and unique city, but not everyone is prepared for February in Canada.

A quick glance at the Canadiens roster shows many were acquired via the draft or trade. Not many have chosen to sign here aside from an overly generous salary that brought Mike Hoffman to Montreal and a couple of locals like David Savard and Mathieu Perreault.

Basically, the Canadiens need to focus on people from the area or really overpay to get a player to sign in Montreal. That hasn’t allowed them to sign many star free agents over the years, but that might not be the case in 2024.

Pierre-Luc Dubois has not been quiet about his desire to play in certain markets. Or perhaps it has been his desire to not play in Columbus that has come to the surface and led to a trade to the Winnipeg Jets. But, recent reports suggest he is planning to hit the open market as soon as he can, and he may have already narrowed his desired locations to just Montreal.

Murat Ates, a writer for The Athletic, wrote that he expects Dubois to test free agency in 2024, which is the earliest date he can, and Ates also believes Dubois wants to play in Montreal as soon as he can and has expressed this desire to his current team already. This isn’t posturing for a contract or trying to pressure them to give him a bigger role, it is just a young player being open and honest with his current organization.

Dubois, just 24 years old, scored 28 goals and 60 points for the Jets last season. He was acquired early the previous season for Patrick Laine and Jack Roslovic. It was hoped he would give the Jets a terrific one-two punch down the middle with Mark Scheifele in an attempt to contend for a Stanley Cup.

While Dubois was great, much of the rest of the team struggled and they missed the playoffs. Now there are rumours about Scheifele’s future, Blake Wheeler’s future and no one can figure out what happened to perennial Vezina Trophy candidate Connor Hellebuyck who struggled last season.

It sure sounds like the Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts native, who grew up about an hour drive from the Bell Centre, is about to pull a John Tavares. We all remember Tavares leaving the New York Islanders to sign a monster contract with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs four years ago, whilst tweeting out his Maple Leafs bed sheets from when he was a kid.

I don’t know that we will get to see Dubois’ childhood bed sheets, but it sure sounds like he is interested in signing with his hometown team in two years. Let’s just hope he actually gives them a small discount in order to do so.

With Nick Suzuki already locked up long term and Shane Wright likely to be drafted first overall, the Canadiens look to already have their top two centres for the foreseeable future. Will Dubois still want to sign at home?

I suppose playing left wing on a line with Suzuki and Cole Caufield isn’t the worst place to end up if playing for the Canadiens is his desire, and a prominent centre role isn’t available.

The Habs don’t often have a top free agent wanting to join the team. They don’t have to worry about it for two years, but they would be wise to stash away a bit of cap space for the 2024 free agent frenzy just in case Dubois really wants to pull a John Tavares and move a little closer to home.

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