Huberdeau Deal Supports Habs Not Waiting On Dubois

By JD Lagrange – The players are different. Their production today is different. Their position is different. What seems to be the only thing in common, aside from Canadiens’ fans wanting them to sign in Montreal, is their nationality. But there is more that meets the eye and when you did a little bit, Jonathan Huberdeau and Pierre-Luc Dubois have a few things in common.

The Calgary Flames announced that they have signed newly acquired Huberdeau to an eight year, $84 million contract. Huberdeau, who has one year left to his current contract with a cap hit of $5.9 million, will be 30 years old when his new contract takes effect, carrying a cap hit of $10.5 million per season.

This deal is crushing the hopes of more than one Habs’ fan who were hoping to see him sign in Montreal as an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of next season.

Statistical link

Both players were selected third overall at their respective NHL Draft: Huberdeau in 2011 (by Florida) and Dubois in 2016 (by Columbus). Now lets have a look at the two Quebecois’ statistics through their first five seasons in the NHL.

202 lbsWEIGHT218 lbs
2:23PP TOI/GP2:26
0:11PK TOI/GP0:08

As you can see, the similarities between the two players throughout the first five years of their career is remarkable and significant. Now add the fact that Dubois is a center and Huberdeau a winger, the size and weight difference and the physicality Dubois brings. The big center has similar potential as his counterpart had at the same stage in their career.

Risk of waiting

Those opposed to Montreal acquiring him via trade often use three arguments to support their stance on the topic. Two of those hold no water and the other one is legitimate.

1- The cost of trading for him is a reality that is totally defendable. Guys like Dubois don’t come cheap, granted, and the Canadiens would have to give up some quality in order to make the deal happen. In my humble opinion, I would make anything available that is not named Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky or Kaiden Guhle. I would be reluctant to give up the first round pick for next season but I doubt it could be done without it. So I would get some sort of lottery protection on it. In my opinion, Dubois is worth it. Not because of his place of birth as much as the fact that he is a top-2 centers on a team, just entering the prime years of his career.

2- The first excuse that needs to be debunked is Dubois’ “attitude”, or the fact that it would be the second time being traded. At first glance, it should be a red flag but when you dig a bit, it’s an argument easily defeated.

  • In Columbus, he was playing under John Tortorella, who humiliated him on television. Few players off-camera will have anything good to say about that coach. Heck, I would have asked to be traded too!
  • In Winnipeg, the coach quit on the team in mid-season, forfeiting some guaranteed money. How often do you see that? It has long been rumoured that Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are cancers in a dressing room. Paul Maurice couldn’t change that and left the sinking ship.

3- Last but not least, it’s fans claiming that if he’s really interested in playing in Montreal, Dubois will sign at rebate when he becomes a UFA. That is a fanboy pipe dream, all fine and dandy on a video game, but far from reality in a competitive world.

  • For one thing, Dubois could be traded elsewhere and like the way he’s treated and pull a Huberdeau, signing long term with his new team. That’s a real possibility. Who thinks Huberdeau would have signed in Calgary next summer as a UFA? Very few, if any.
  • Waiting for him to become a UFA would then undoubtedly allow other teams to make a pitch for Dubois, creating a bidding war, therefore raising his value.
  • Waiting is a huge risk as if his progression curve follows Huberdeau’s, he will break out in the next season or two, also raising the cost of signing him.

And I won’t even get into the non-sense of “tanking” for another season. None of Geoff Molson, Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes, Martin St-Louis or any of the players will purposely tank. That’s just another fanboy pipe dream. These guys don’t get to where they are by throwing games and trying to lose.

Beat the iron while it’s hot!

Pierre-Luc Dubois

There is no denying that Dubois said that he wouldn’t be signing a long term deal with the Jets. His agent is on record saying that his client ultimately wants to play in Montreal. I mean, how rare is that? The iron is hot now. Waiting for it to cool down will make it harder to accomplish the goal of getting him.

There are many major reasons why the Canadiens should look at Huberdeau as an example why waiting for Dubois is a bad idea.

  • He just turned 24 at the end of June, which means that he’s only 14 months older than Suzuki, fitting the core of the team to a tee.
  • He is signed for one year at a cap hit of $6 million. He then has one more year of RFA before becoming a UFA. This one year would lower the cap hit on a contract extension as opposed to waiting for him to become a UFA. He could probably be extended at around $7.5-$8M. If he breaks out, or as a UFA, he could be around Huberdeau’s value.
  • Last but not least, he wants to wear the uniform, knowing full well the pressure. Speaking of pressure, he has 22 points in 33 playoffs’ games through the first five years of his career. At the last World Championship, he was arguably Team Canada’s best player, accumulating 13 points in 10 games.
  • He is a big center, able to match up against bigger centers like Auston Matthews and Aleksander Barkov.
  • He would immediately take some heat away from Suzuki in match-ups, giving Martin St-Louis two good options and making the opposition having to choose which line to put their checking specialists against.
  • Thanks to Marc Bergevin’s reset since 2018 and a poor season last year, allowing Kent Hughes to unload veterans for picks and prospects, the prospect pool has never been this deep. This makes it easier to sacrifice a few picks and prospects to get a player like Dubois.

Some people will disagree with this and that’s okay. At least, it is very likely that their claims have been debunked or rebuffed here. I, for one, am hoping that Hughes is able to get a deal done for Dubois this summer and not later. The risk is much, much lower than the potential reward.

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Pierre-Luc Dubois Demystified

By JD Lagrange – Sometimes in life, you make your own bed and you have to sleep in it. Other times, you didn’t make the bed but you’re the one who has to sleep in it. Yet people, without being there, still believe that it’s you that made it and juge you for it. Now take the bed analogy and transpose it to hockey and so-called “attitude”… and you have the story of Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Rumours have been circulating for some time. First, Dubois informed the Winnipeg Jets that he wouldn’t sign a contract extension passed the two years he has left on his contract. Then, it was reported that the player speaks to teammates and close friends to the effect that he would like to play for the Montreal Canadiens. And it didn’t take more to get the rumour mill going.

2016 Draft

If you recall, Marc Bergevin tried hard to move up from his number nine draft position back at the 2016 NHL Draft. He was trying to get pick number four (from Edmonton) or five (from Vancouver) as his target was… Pierre-Luc Dubois. Back then, it was a debate for the number one overall pick between Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, then Jesse Puljujärvi was favourite at number three. On most lists, Matthew Tkachuk was penciled in at number four and Dubois at number five.

The Canadiens needed centers and Bergevin couldn’t convince free agents to sign in Montreal so drafting and developing them was his goal. Standing at 6-foot 2-inches (he grew an inch since), the Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, QC, native was a natural. But then, Columbus, who owned the number three pick, surprised everyone by selecting Dubois at number three, killing any potential deal with Edmonton or Vancouver.


Dubois played one more season in the QMJHL, then cracked the roster in 2017-18, managing a very respectable 20 goals and 48 points. He followed that up with 27 goals and 68 points in his second season. But then… John Tortorella started messing with him, as he has done with numerous players before him (and after – see Laine). Humiliating him, yelling at his young player in plain view behind the bench, benching him periods at a time, Dubois saw no other option but to get away from the mad coach.

And if you don’t believe the stories about Tortorella, I suggest you talk to some of his former players. Oh they’ll say the politically correct things with a mic or camera in their face, but off the record, the story will change. The current Philadelphia Flyers’ players aren’t happy to see him coming behind the bench next season, you better believe it.


Finally, on January 3rd, 2021, the Blue Jackets sent Dubois packing for Winnipeg in a block buster trade. Columbus sent Dubois and a third round pick to the Jets in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. Ironically, the trade was made two days after Dubois was benched and played an NHL-career low 3:55 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Dubois had a rough start with the Jets, managing only eight goals and 20 points in 41 games after the trade. But with an off-season to gather his thoughts, he bounced back last season with 28 goals and 60 points in 81 games. He also did very well representing Canada at the World Championships with 13 points in 10 games.

But there’s something very wrong in Winnipeg. How often have we seen a head coach quit on his team, giving up on a guaranteed contract? Paul Maurice, a very well respected coach around the league, stated for his reason for quitting in mid-season, that the players “needed a new voice” behind the bench. In other words, the message wasn’t passing, or players did what they wanted.

Now look at that leadership group for a second. Blake Wheeler has a reputation around the NHL as a moody and hard to get along with individual. He’s the team captain. Is there a Habs’ fan out there who doesn’t remember Mark Scheifele? The guy whom, after a predatory hit on Jake Evans, never apologized, felt any remorse or taken any responsibility for it even after being suspended? He wears an “A” on his jersey in Winnipeg. There seems to be cancer in that dressing room…

Judging Dubois

So because he has been wanting out of two teams so far in his young career, they are many who feel like Dubois is a problem. At glance, it sure looks like it, doesn’t it?

But when you look deeper into it, unless someone wants to drive a point to fit a narrative, the events can be explained, even justified, and seen as bad luck or timing. Dubois didn’t ask for a trade (that we know of) from Winnipeg. He simply informed them that he didn’t want to sign a long term extension and guess what? It’s his right not to do so. Is Johnny Gaudreau a bad guy because he got out of Calgary at first chance? He too was targeted by his coach, Darryl Sutter, a couple of years ago…

Why it makes sense

Here are the facts: Dubois is a 24 year-old, 6-foot 3-inches, 218 lbs center who can also play wing. Big, strong and talented, he owns excellent offensive instincts. He has the strength and speed to get to the front of the net and the skill to finish, and he is also a good passer. He has also improved his play without the puck since entering into the league. Paul Maurice is excellent at teaching his players the defensive aspect of the game.

He is only 14 months older than Nick Suzuki. His 28 goals would have topped the Canadiens last season and his 60 points would be one shy of Suzuki for the team lead. He is just coming into his own and the bigger the stage, the better he gets. So for some fans to not want him on the Habs is pure madness, in my humble opinion. The guy has the potential to become a point per game player.

In the French podcast “Tellement Hockey”, Radio-Canada reporter Martin Leclerc added to the story of Kent Hughes wanting Dubois.

“During draft week, I know that they were negotiating hard. I was told that the Canadiens had offered three players in return to get Pierre-Luc Dubois. I don’t know who the players are, but they want to liquidate salary”, said Leclerc.

Others aren’t against him playing in Montreal but want to wait until he becomes a UFA in two years “to get him for free”. For free?… He has two years remaining right now where he doesn’t have UFA status. Those years, historically, are cheaper than the UFA years. So if you sign him long term today, it will be cheaper than in two years but also, what if he breaks through and requires more money? He is currently a RFA with arbitration rights and carried a cap hit of $5 million last season. According to, his qualifying offer sits at $6 million. Getting him now is the best way to afford him!

He would cost to acquire? Yeah, you know why? Because that’s what happens with good players! Acquiring a player like Dubois is so Jeff Gorton-like, seeing what he had done with the New York Rangers. It would simply accelerate the rebuild, reset, retool or re-whatever-you-wanna-call-it! To borrow a catch phrase from a redneck comedy great, Larry the Cable Guy: “Git-R-Done“, Kent!

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