By JD Lagrange – As if the rumours surrounding the mutual interest between Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Montreal Canadiens wasn’t enough, there had to be another Quebecois entering the portrait. Even since Jonathan Huberdeau was traded to Calgary, some Habs’ fans have jumped to the conclusion that he would be joining the Canadiens next summer when he becomes a UFA.
After the shocking trade that sent Matthew Tkachuk and a fourth round pick to the Florida Panthers for Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and a first round pick, the former Panthers is said to be unhappy about the way Florida handled the situation. He and his agent Alan Walsh were anticipating a contract offer coming from GM Bill Zito but instead, they got the news that he had been traded.
As time goes by, the more we get to see what Kent Hughes is doing and hear what he’s saying, and the clearer his plan is becoming. He has traded assets for high picks yes, but he has acquired prospects closer to being ready to step into roles at the NHL level. He picked up a couple of College players (older than junior), then got Justin Barron and Kirby Dach, both young with NHL experience.
It seems like he’s trying to gather a young core and that’s why Pierre-Luc Dubois makes sense, to accelerate the re-whatever (build, tool, set) that they’re doing, as he’s only 14 months older than Nick Suzuki. Even when he sacrificed22 year-old Alexander Romanov, Hughes knew that he had Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris who were ready to step in, and it was to acquire 21 year-old Dach.
Contrary to what fans think, particularly with the Quebecois connection, Jonathan Huberdeau is at the other end of the spectrum. Not only will he be in very high demand as a UFA for teams ready to compete for the Stanley Cup, but he would be extremely expansive on a payroll. And as he will be 30 by the time he becomes UFA, it would be for a much shorter period of time than Dubois.
For that reason, while there is no denying that he’s a very good player, Huberdeau simply doesn’t fit “the window” for the Canadiens, nor does he fit the cap structure. Dubois does and would fit for a longer period of time.
As explained in an earlier article, the so-called reputation about Dubois is a bit unfair. Also, the Canadiens would be much better off acquiring Dubois sooner rather than later and it is believed, in the hockey world, that Hughes is working on doing exactly that.