By JD Lagrange – Yes, that topic again. What can we say? A big impact forward, a local talent, wants to play for the Canadiens and we are only days away from finding out where he will be going. That’s rather polarizing, wouldn’t you say? So bear with us for a bit longer, the Pierre-Luc Dubois saga is only a few weeks away from being consumed.
In a recent article on The Athletic, Arpon Basu and Marc-Antoine Godin co-wrote that Dubois’ salary demands, for a non-contender like the Canadiens, would be in the $9 million per season range but that he might accept a bit less from a Stanley Cup contender.
When you stop and think of it logically, emotions aside, this makes sense. And if you’re a Habs’ fan, you should agree to this. Dubois had 63 points in 73 games last season, playing through injuries in the second half of the season. That’s a pace for 71 points over 82 games (0.86 Pts/GP). Nick Suzuki led the Canadiens with 66 points in… 82 games (0.80 Pts/GP).
Fans will inevitably compare salaries to Nick Suzuki ($7.875M) and Cole Caufield ($7.85M) but those who will are forgetting an important factor. Both young players, through their 8-year contract, have signed for years mostly covering their RFA status. Dubois is one year away from becoming a UFA so signing a long term deal would cover mostly UFA years. That comes at a premium for a hockey player. Therefore, if both young studs on the Canadiens get close to eight million, it’s not farfetched to think that Dubois would be getting nine.
There are many who think that Kent Hughes doesn’t want to have players making more than Nick Suzuki, and use Caufield’s contract to support their claim. But Hughes clarified this point in his meeting with the press from Buffalo at the combines. He did say that it was important to respect the salary structure from a player coming off an entry-level contract, but things change based on situations. So clearly, that doesn’t necessarily apply to a soon-to-be UFA.
Not so long ago, I did some research and published the results on this very website. We looked at both the cost value in a trade, and salaries of players in a similar situation. While $9 million is a bit higher, it is certainly not out of touch with today’s reality. The salary cap may only go up by $1 million next season, but experts predict that it is anticipated to go up drastically starting next season, when the NHLPA’s $70 million escrow is all paid back.
Since that research however, Dubois has officially informed the Jets that he has no intention of signing a new contract with them. Through his agent Pat Brisson, the Dubois clan is willing to work with the Jets to help facilitate a trade. As a team could sneak in and sign Dubois to an offer-sheet by July 1st, it is expected that Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will trade his disgruntled forward prior to that date. If Dubois signed an offer-sheet and the Jets matched it, this would mean that they could not trade him for the year, therefore losing him at the end of the season with no return.
This demand by Dubois has definitely taken the big part of the stick out of the Jets’ hands. It is believed that the Ste-Agathe-des-Monts native has a list of about 4-5 teams to which he would agree to re-sign with, Montreal being on that list. Without knowing the other teams, one could wonder how many would have the necessary cap space to re-sign him. The Canadiens do. Contrary to popular belief, the Jets still have ‘some’ leverage… Since he has no trade protection, Winnipeg can still trade him to the highest offering team.
It is now fully expected that Dubois will be traded by the June 28th Draft (or before). Where? That’s a question that only Cheveldayoff and the Jets can answer. One thing is for sure, they are fielding calls and gauging interest… and Kent Hughes is in discussion.