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Pierre-Luc Dubois: the Canadiens (really) avoided the worst

It’s December 21, the date of this year’s winter solstice. At last, winter has begun!

No, I don’t like winter, but it has to start sometime before it can end three months later. At least, from tomorrow onwards, the days will get longer and the sun will be a little more generous with us every day.

Thank you Kent Hughes
A wise man once said that the best deals in professional sports are often the ones you don’t make.

At the Habs, one of the many unmade transactions that is now benefiting the club is that of Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Let’s go back in time (in the short term) if you don’t mind.

While we all know that Pierre-Luc Dubois won’t be signing a contract extension with the Jets, many rumors are linking him to his childhood team, the Canadiens. In June 2022, with Dubois heading towards restricted autonomy and the amateur draft taking place in Montreal, Dubois came very close to being traded to the Tricolore. For a guy like Martin Leclerc to come up with this information, it must have been (very) close indeed.

According to some rumours, the Jets were demanding the first overall pick and/or none other than Kirby Dach in return for Dubois. In the end, Kent Hughes said no. A stroke of luck!

One year later, Dubois was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. In return for Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and a second-round pick in 2024. Pierre-Luc Dubois had agreed to sign an $8.5 million per season contract with the Jets before being traded to the Kings.

Once again, rumours linking Dubois to the Habs mentioned Kirby Dach… and even Nick Suzuki at times.

Dubois slow to produce in LA
The problem is, after just a few months, Dubois is already the target of much criticism in Los Angeles. As many hockey critics as there are in California

Dubois is the team’s third center behind Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault, even though he’s the team’s highest-paid forward this season ($9 million)…

And he’s only the team’s 9th-best scorer so far this season (even though he hasn’t missed a game). He has just 5 goals and 7 assists in 29 games, posting BY FAR the worst differential of the entire team.


He’s also undisciplined, and his effort without the puck is (already) in question.

Since the Kings are off to a good start this season and many of their players are playing extremely well, Dubois’ difficulties are getting less attention. But when the team hits a rough patch, the big Quebec center – I’m not talking about Phillip Danault here – will easily become the number-one target of fans and journalists following the team’s activities.

The Kings have lost four of their last six games. If they don’t get back on track, PLD could be in for a rough time soon. Especially since they’re going through an atrocious streak…

Dubois has the 43rd-highest cap hit in the NHL this season… and he’s the 46th-highest-paid player in 2023-24; yet he’s only the 277th-highest scorer on the Bettman circuit this morning. I’m repeating myself, but 8 of his teammates have more points than him this season.

Offering Slafkovsky and/or Dach plus anything else would have REALLY set the Habs back in their rebuild. You can’t go too fast when rebuilding a team. Talk to the Senators and their fans…

Slafkovsky has 8 points in 31 games, but he’s only 19. He’s playing the best hockey of his career alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield on the first line. And all this for far less than Dubois on his team’s salary cap

Kirby Dach was unlucky to tear ligaments in his knee at the start of the season, but was producing at a rate of one point per game until then.

Dach at 22 or Dubois at 25? I’m pretty sure a majority of readers would opt for Dach (who also costs less than half in average annual salary).

I’m telling you, we avoided the worst by not trading for Dubois, even though many fans wanted us to! #MerciKent

The Jets don’t miss Dubois
Last June, we were hearing that the Jets would have to rebuild because of Dubois’ eventual departure, but also those of Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck.

But Scheifele and Hellebuyck each signed multi-season contracts before the start of the campaign… and the newcomers from LA are getting the job done on the ice.

Vilardi, who plays alongside Scheifele and Nik Ehlers on his team’s top line, has 13 points in 13 games, one more than Dubois… in 16 fewer games.

He has 10 points in four games since December 13. If he hadn’t been injured, he’d probably have around 30 points by now.

As for Iafallo, he’s playing on the two and collecting a point every other game (15 in 31), which is better than Dubois’ production in California.

Kupari and the second-round pick have no impact on the Jets. Not yet, anyway.

Instead of rebuilding, the Jets – who will always have trouble attracting free agents in Manitoba – sit atop the Central Division this morning.

The Habs really dodged a bullet
You know, Dubois would only be the Canadiens’ 6th-best scorer this morning, tied with Brendan Gallagher (and behind Suzuki, Caufield, Monahan, Newhook and Matheson). All this while being the organization’s highest-paid active player!

Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton really avoided the worst by staying away from Pierre-Luc Dubois. Sometimes you can’t listen to the warm-ups, while in other situations, the red flags do the talking. Clearly, Dubois’ problems in Columbus and Winnipeg – remember one of his last shifts under John Tortorella – needed to be heard.


Last summer, Rem Pitlick left the Canadiens to try his luck with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pitlick signed a two-year, one-year contract ($1.1 million per season).

Two and a half months into the 2023-24 season, Pitlick has yet to play a single NHL game. He must be disappointed.

However, this morning he sits atop the Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton Penguins scoring charts with 20 points in 26 games. He is followed by Ty Smith, Alex Nylander, Samuel Houde and Xavier Ouellet.

Only Brandon Gignac and Joshua Roy currently have more points than Pitlick for the Rocket.

Pitlick has scored 5 of his 7 goals on the power play, but has one of his team’s worst differentials(minus-8).

In short, Pitlick is the perfect example of an offensively gifted player who is capable of producing in the AHL, but for whom the NHL is too strong. And since Pitlick doesn’t have what it takes to play consistently on a bottom-six. He’s doomed to produce… in an inferior league.

Kent Hughes was right not to sign him at that price. We already have Jesse Ylonen in that profile. And the Rocket can’t count on $1.1 million Rem Pitlick to be successful. Solutions must come from elsewhere.

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