Dubois: Trading or Waiting, the Pros and Cons

By JD Lagrange – I know, some Habs’ fans are tired of the discussions surrounding Pierre-Luc Dubois and the possibility of him joining the Canadiens. But as his own agent mentioned that his client doesn’t want to sign long term in Winnipeg because he would like to play in Montreal, don’t expect the talks and rumours to suddenly go away… particularly not with trade deadline looming or this upcoming off-season.

It seems like fans (and media members) are divided on three groups on the topic:

  1. Those who categorically don’t want anything to do with Dubois, for one reason or another.
  2. Those who are all for it, and are willing to trade for him by this summer at the latest.
  3. Those who wouldn’t mind getting Dubois, but want to wait for him to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) not to have to give up assets to get him.

Whether someone wants to get him or not is arguable as it’s a matter of opinion. To each their own and we have gone over that in a past article. So we’re not going into it in this one. Instead, I want to address the other options of acquiring him.

UFA

For those who don’t know, Dubois is a pending restricted free agent (RFA) this summer and will be UFA eligible in the summer of 2024. Many fans think that it would be cheaper to wait for Dubois to become a UFA instead of trading for him. That is only partially true and here’s why.

At 24 years of age, Dubois is having the best season of his young career with 22 goals and 52 points in 52 games so far this year. It is not a stretch to think that he will do just as well, or even improve on those numbers next season. You will have to pay a player a lot more if he has two consecutive seasons at over a point per game than you will if he only has one. That’s a fact that cannot be denied.

If – or when – he becomes a UFA after two great seasons, all 32 teams will have the option of throwing truck loads of money his way, including states where there is no or little tax. So for the Canadiens to be able to be in the ball park salary-wise, they will have to fork out a lot more money. Don’t forget that the cap will be going up and salaries will also follow suite.

How much money will a 6-foot 2-inches, top-line center be fetching as a UFA, do you think? Is waiting for him to become a UFA really “cheaper”, come to think of it? The Canadiens will still have to pay Suzuki, Caufield and their other players by then.

TRADE

If the Canadiens were to trade for Dubois, they would have to give up assets to acquire him and, let’s face it, we’re not talking about giving up dead wood here. While some people think that it would cost Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield or Kaiden Guhle, it’s not the case. Of course that’s what the Jets will be asking for. But that’s not what they would end up with. Let’s make that totally clear.

Let’s not forget that Dubois holds the big part of the stick here (pun intended). He will be only one year away from becoming UFA and even if traded elsewhere than Montreal, teams won’t want to pay a huge premium for a player they don’t know they can re-sign long term. So the Jets won’t be able to cash in Dubois’ true value unless he agrees to sign a long term extension, which is unlikely.

Salary dump: Now here’s one of the benefit of trading versus waiting for him to be a UFA. The Canadiens could force the Jets to take on Mike Hoffman in the deal, an asset that they could not trade otherwise and that, in my opinion, they will look at buying out this summer. For the Jets, it would be one year at $4.5 million, for secondary scoring.

50 contracts: Further, teams can only have 50 total contracts. While they won’t re-sign their current pending UFAs in Jonathan Drouin, Evgenii Dadonov and Paul Byron, they would also not re-up Sean Monahan if they trade for Dubois. But Caufield, Ylönen, Harvey-Pinard, Pezzetta, Harris, Richard and Beaudin (amongst others) are pending RFAs and need to be re-signed. They also have some new prospects graduating from their own ranks (Junior, College, Europe) who will need to count against the 50 contracts limit). Trading contracts will become important.

One more season: Last but not least, by trading for him, they would reap the benefit of having Dubois helping out Suzuki for one more season. We saw the drop in Slick Nick’s production after Sean Monahan came out of the line-up, right? Dubois would have a similar effect starting next season.

Yes, the Canadiens will have to give value but not as much as some people think. I could be way off here, but I’m thinking something along the lines of Josh Anderson (who is signed long term), a first round pick this year (Florida) or in 2024, and Mike Hoffman.

Last but not least, the deal that Jonathan Huberdeau signed with the Calgary Flames should serve as a strong support in acquiring Dubois before he hits free agency. We have made that correlation back in August.

Conclusion

Count me in on the side of fans who want to see the Canadiens get Pierre-Luc Dubois. Not because he’s French Canadian (although it’s a nice bonus), but because he’s an excellent NHL player with grit and size, one that every other NHL team would love to have.

But I also strongly believe that the best time to get him will be this upcoming summer. The Jets are unlikely to trade him as they are in the playoffs’ picture this year. And the benefits of trading for him, in my opinion, vastly outweigh waiting for the player to become a UFA. A center line of Dubois, Suzuki and Dach has me drooling. It would be a cheap version of Edmonton’s McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins. Both Dach and Dubois can play the wing from time to time too.

In the meantime, don’t expect the Dubois rumours to die until he signs long term somewhere. Here’s hoping that it’s in Montreal… sooner rather than later.

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The Prices Move Back To BC – An Insight

By JD Lagrange – It doesn’t take much in Montreal to make a big deal out of very little. When Carey Price’s wife Angela posted on her Instagram account that the family would be selling their home in Montreal to move back to their Kelowna, British Columbia residence, at the end of the school year, everyone knew it was coming. It was just a confirmation of what she had said months ago, but that didn’t prevent traditional media to present it as news.

But why is that? Carey missed all but the last 5 games last season, and suffered another major setback trying to return. He has yet to put on skates this year and will not be returning this season. If it wasn’t for insurance companies being so finicky at looking for loopholes not to pay monies owed (they’re better at collecting premiums), Price would likely announce that he won’t be returning, his knee preventing him to do his job. But no, he has to play the insurance game and tip-toe around like a criminal sneaking around a house at night while the occupants are sleeping.

Contract left

Carey Price

Some people are playing the card of the offended virgin because Price still has three years remaining to his contract. In their mind, Price should be tied to lamp post in Montreal for those three years, even if he’s not playing. Of course, it’s easy to have an opinion on what someone else should do with their life as it doesn’t affect them. Guess what? If he was playing, it would be a non-issue. But those people ignore the fact that his career is done. No contract can and will tie anyone in one City when off-duty.

In addition, he is not getting paid by the team, as some claim. He’s paid by the long-term disability insurance company. I have been on disability in the past and my employer wasn’t paying me. It was Sun Life that issued me the payments. In Price’s case, the only handicap to the Canadiens is that they must put him on LTIR. But that wouldn’t change if he was in Montreal, Kelowna, Seattle or Hong Kong!

Family and lifestyle

Further, those of you who have children may understand the importance of family. Carey and Angela’s parents and relatives are all in British Columbia and in Washington State, about 5,000 kilometers away. For some of you, that doesn’t hit home. For others like myself, I understand. My father didn’t get to see his grand-kids grow up because I moved to BC. Whether you want to accept this as a reason or not is irrelevant. Family is important to many people and the Price’s have strong family values. It’s a good thing.

Another aspect I can totally relate with Carey is that I know the difference between Quebec and BC when it comes to being an outdoorsman. Having spent the first 25 years of my life in Sherbrooke, I’ve been in BC for well over 30 years now and there is simply no comparison when it comes to outdoor activities between the two provinces. There is so much Crown Land in BC, it makes for amazing hunting and fishing without seeing other hunters or fisherman next to you, or having to bait game to come on private property. Like it or not, Carey is an outdoorsman and BC is not only his home, it’s the best place for outdoor activities.

Roy hypocrisy

This brings me to Patrick Roy, a man I used to idolize pre-1995, but whom I have since learned to despise by his own doing over the years. Never shying away from wanting the spotlight on himself, Roy made a lame attempt at backslapping Price. In a recent interview with BPM Sports, the former goaltender said: “I would rather retire than to say: ‘My leg hurts, pay me!‘”

This is so typical of that individual. The more I listen to him, the more I see of him, the happier I am that Geoff Molson didn’t make the monumental mistake of hiring him in a position of power with the Canadiens. Much like P.K. Subban who recently said that he would have taken $7 million to stay in Montreal – although he held out at camp to get his $9 million contract – Roy is an hypocrite. No, Patrick, no one believes that you would have left $23.5 million on the table to retire “because your knee hurts”. What arrogance also in downplaying the seriousness of Price’s injury, going as far as questioning his character…

Why doesn’t Price retire? Here’s why:

SEASONSIGNING BONUSBASE SALARYTOTAL SALARYCAP HIT
2023-24$6.5M$2M$8.5M$10.5M
2024-25$5.5M$2M$7.5M$10.5M
2025-26$5.5M$2M$7.5M$10.5M

So fans and media can bellyache all they want, the Price’s decision of moving back to BC should come at no surprise. I’ll go further in saying that anyone with any family value and common sense will understand and even support the Price family in their decision. They will remember that Carey, much like Shea Weber and Paul Byron, permanently damaged their bodies in a heroic attempt to bring Stanley Cup number 25 to the City of Montreal. Their only “failure” was to come up short against a good team $18 million over the cap.

But rest assured, Carey and Angela, this man understands you, as do most Habs’ fans. And we support your decision. Thank you again for who you are, what you stand for, and for what you have done for this franchise and your generosity in Montreal. We only wish, like you, that you could have been better supported during your career with some offensive skills, and got your Cup with the Canadiens. See you when your jersey gets retired… or somewhere in BC.

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