With rumors circulating surrounding the future of Pierre-Luc Dubois with the Columbus Blue Jackets, I thought it may be worthwhile to look at a potential trade package the Flames could offer for him. It is worth noting that he signed a two year, $5M AAV contract immediately after the speculation of him wanting to leave Columbus surfaced. While this could be a beneficial sign for the Blue Jackets, it is also a contract that gives an acquiring team flexibility to fit him under the lowered salary cap for a couple of year. It also gives Dubois a chance to cash in big in two offseasons while remaining a RFA.
Dubois most recently had 18 goals and 49 points in 70 regular season games, just a bit off of his 27 goal and 61 point pace from the previous season, however he did have a very good playoffs with ten points in ten games. Dubois was drafted in 2016, just three picks ahead of Matthew Tkachuk, which is interesting because the only reason the Flames even have Tkachuk is because Dubois was taken by Columbus. Funny how this could all work out.
Why the Trade Makes Sense
While the Flames do already have an average to above average forward core, they are still lacking big play drivers outside of the 3M line. They don’t really have a number one center either as Sean Monahan has played closer to a 2C level over the course of his career but has been elevated being alongside Johnny Gaudreau in my opinion. Dubois would immediately fix both of those issues now, and for the foreseeable future being just 22 years old.
The following pair of tweets outline just how good Dubois’ overall game is.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, signed 2x$5M by Columbus (where he is evidently perfectly happy), is an elite offensive playdriver at even strength with a good shot. His defensive play might be a bit overrated because of the Jackets' system. #CBJ pic.twitter.com/FjwCwaBKrX— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) December 31, 2020
By acquiring Dubois, the Flames can continue to roll with Elias Lindholm on the wing, or have a really strong centre core with Dubois, Lindholm, and Mikael Backlund down the middle.
This trade also makes a ton of sense for where the Flames are aiming to go over the next two seasons. With Johnny Gaudreau having two years left on his contract and Matthew Tkachuk also looking for a pay raise in two years, the Flames window to win the Stanley Cup seems to be most critically open right now and the year after this one. With younger players like Andrew Mangiapane, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson all entering their prime, along with Jacob Markstrom in his prime over the next couple of years, the Flames have to be going all-in during this window.
Why the Trade Doesn’t Make Sense
Well I want to say first that it’s the NHL and major trades like this kind of deal are extremely few and far between. It is also important to recognize that if Dubois is on the market, the price tag will likely be high based on the number of teams who will be competing for his services.
Cap-wise this trade makes sense for a couple of years, but adding Dubois to the list of offseason negotiations in 2022 that already contains Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane, and Mark Giordano could make things really tight. As I already alluded to though, I think you suffer through that offseason if this trade brings you significant success in the two years leading up to the negotiations.
Coming up with a trade package for this kind of deal is tough as it’s hard to say exactly the path that will be taken by Columbus if this were to occur. They made the playoffs last season despite losing Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency the summer prior, and they have proven they can do a lot with a little under head coach John Tortorella’s systems. With that in mind, I’m going to move ahead with the Jackets looking for help in the present with futures that may help in the next year or two.
So with that in mind, I think a trade that makes sense is:
- Sean Monahan
- Oliver Kylington
- Matthew Phillips
- 2021 1st Round Pick
- Pierre-Luc Dubois
- Scott Harrington (250k retained)
The package may seem a bit high, but the Flames are going to have to give up a lot of assets to acquire Dubois who has a significant chance of becoming a franchise center. There would likely be a bidding war to win Dubois, so the Flames may have to give up more in order to get the deal done. You could say his value is down based on the trade request, but the number of teams interested likely raises his value back up. Calgary is in a unique position in that they have a Top 6 center they could offer back to Columbus for PLD.
Harrington is also included in the trade as a depth defensive piece to make the salaries balance and would likely be flipped, waived, or sent to Stockton/taxi squad although he could be on the team in a 7th defenseman type role.
Monahan would allow the Jackets to remain competitive although there would be a downgrade to Dubois by a big stretch. Kylington could fit into an NHL role right away in Columbus, something that may not be in the cards with the Flames. Phillips who is coming off a 33 point in 38 game season in the AHL could get a shot at cracking the roster as well.
The pick seems to be a big cost to give up, but again a mid-late first round pick isn’t likely to make an impact for at least 2-3 seasons, meaning it would be outside of this abbreviated contending window for the Flames. It’s all about winning now, even at the cost for the future.
Saying goodbye to Monahan would be tough from a fan perspective, but it would make the team significantly better and allow the Flames to really put together a stronger top six than what they currently have while making them younger. It would give them a lot of flexibility as well with their lineup decisions. One-for-one the trade would also save the Flames 1.375M of cap when swapping Monahan and Dubois with more years of control as Dubois is an RFA at the end of this deal.
Here’s a look at a potential forward core with Dubois:
Gaudreau - Dubois - Dube
Tkachuk - Lindholm - Mangiapane
Simon - Backlund - Leivo
Lucic - Ryan - Bennett
That is an extremely exciting core to consider and would potentially give the Flames the best lineup on paper in the Canadian Division. At this point it’s just speculation, but perhaps these two GM’s could work out some sort of deal involving major pieces of their franchises. Again, it’s the NHL and that rarely happens, but this is the kind of player that the Flames should try to push extremely hard for if they want to win now.
Should Calgary make this trade?
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