After weeks of rampant speculation, the Columbus Blue Jackets finally found a route to unload disgruntled star Pierre-Luc Dubois, and it was a blockbuster. This morning Columbus traded the centerman to the Winnipeg Jets alongside a 2022 third round selection in exchange for RW Patrik Laine and C Jack Roslovic.
Touted as future stars with the potential to turn the fortunes of a franchise around, Laine and Dubois were taken second and third overall respectively in the 2016 NHL Draft. Both started their careers strongly but wound up falling out of favor with their teams.
Dubois joined the Blue Jackets for the 2017-18 season and broke the team’s rookie scoring record. He served as key part of their resurgence, including a memorable upset of the record-breaking Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 playoffs. He lead Columbus in scoring for the 2019-20 season and the team rewarded him with a new two-year deal in December 2020. However, the Quebecois stunned hockey fans in Ohio by requesting a trade just two weeks later.
It hasn’t been confirmed why the Quebecois so suddenly wanted out of Columbus. Issues with the direction of the team and Head Coach John Tortorella have been speculated. The issues between both parties came to the forefront this past Thursday in a game between the Jackets and Lightning. Dubois stepped onto the ice late in the first period and skated very lightly, barely engaging in the play. Tortorella then benched him for the rest of the game. Many commentators and fans read this as Dubois giving up on his team due to his unhappiness with the situation.
Laine on the other hand got off to a bang with the Jets in an electrifying 36 goal rookie campaign in 2016-17. His goal total increased to 44 the following season and it seemed that the Finn was on the rise as one of the NHL’s next elite scorers. But the perception in Winnipeg began to change soon after that. Laine’s goal and point production has dipped in each of the last two seasons and fans began to label the star as a headcase. The Jets parting ways with Laine became a foregone conclusion as a result, and the speculation proved to be correct.
Although it appears that both players have issues with attitude, they now have a chance for a fresh start. Still just 22 years of age each, Dubois and Laine have proven they can be next-level talents. Sometimes a change of scenery is a necessity, and it could pay dividends for all parties involved.