Jets still waiting for Pierre-Luc Dubois to make an impact
It does not always work out this way, but the ideal trade is when everybody -- both teams, the players involved, etc. -- all come away with something that makes them and their situation better.
It is a difficult thing to achieve, and from a competitive standpoint you should always be looking to get the upper hand on the teams you are competing with. But ultimately the whole purpose of two teams getting together and making a deal is so that they can both get something out of it.
Sometimes, though, nobody gets what they want. Or expects.
That has been the case so far with this season’s Columbus-Winnipeg blockbuster that saw the Blue Jackets send Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Jets in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic back in January.
It involved three players all looking for a change of scenery from their current situations. The Jets were hoping to get an impact center that could improve their depth down the middle. The Blue Jackets were hoping to get an elite goal-scorer that could make an impact on their power play and give them some true star power.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Just a few months later and, quite honestly, none of that has happened.
Laine’s debut season in Columbus saw him get stapled to the bench on more than occasion, while his new team never seemed to fully understand what they had with him and have tried to turn him into something he is not.
Meanwhile, the Jets are still waiting for Dubois to show any of the form he displayed over his first few seasons with the Blue Jackets.
He enters Game 4 of their Second Round series with the Canadiens (8 p.m. ET; NHL Network) with zero goals and only three assists in his first six playoff games this season. That comes at a time -- and in a series -- where the Jets’ center depth has been depleted with Paul Stastny missing time to injury and Mark Scheifele missing time due to a suspension. He is not the reason they are facing elimination. But he has also not yet done anything to help them avoid it.
It also comes just one year after Dubois made a name for himself with a dominant showing in the playoffs as a member of the Blue Jackets, recording 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 10 games.
The question the Jets have to wrestle with now is whether or not this is just a short-term blip in a weird season, or if it is a real long-term concern. Because this has not been a normal year, and the circumstances around the trade itself and his arrival to Winnipeg made things difficult. There was the two-week isolation period where he could not join the team. He has been injured on more than one occasion and even missed the start of the playoffs. All of that can play at least some factor in his regression across the board and his quiet postseason.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]
You also do not want to overreact too much to a half season’s worth of games when there are three full seasons of play to look at. There is a decent sampling of play here to suggest that Dubois should -- emphasis on should -- be some kind of an impact player. In his first three years in the NHL, all before turning 22, he was averaging 23 goals and 50-plus points per 82 games, while playing a strong two-way game. Was he a superstar? No. But he was playing an advanced, complete game that had all the markings of an impact player.
Then this season it just sort of disappeared and has not returned. Including playoffs, he has scored at a 13-goal, 38-point pace over 82 games, and just not looked anywhere near as impactful as he did with Columbus. Especially when the Jets needed him to be their top player in this series.
At this point, facing a 3-0 series deficit and needing to beat Carey Price four games in a row it is probably too late for any sort of change this season. The hope here has to be that with a clean slate, and a fresh start, Dubois can get back on his developmental track from his first three seasons and become the player the Jets were hoping to acquire. If he does, and he goes back to being the player he showed he can be through his first three seasons that is a player you can use a central building block long-term.
But if this season is not the outlier, and if this is a sign of what is ahead, then it would seem to be a pretty big missed opportunity for everybody involved and the exact type of trade nobody wants to make.
JETS VS. CANADIENS (MTL leads 3-0) - series livestream link
Game 1: Canadiens 5, Jets 3
Game 2: Canadiens 1, Jets 0
Game 3: Canadiens 5, Jets 1
Game 4: Mon. June 7: Jets at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
*Game 5: Wed. June 9: Canadiens at Jets, 8 p.m. ET (CNBC)
*Game 6: Fri. June 11: Jets at Canadiens TBD
*Game 7: Sun. June 13: Canadiens at Jets TBD