Perhaps the biggest storyline in the National Hockey League at the start of the 2021 regular season has been the sudden, and frankly unexpected, trade demands made by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Pierre Luc Dubois. Rumors began to circulate earlier in the month suggesting that Dubois had made a trade demand, rumors that have since been confirmed by the Blue Jackets organization, including by head coach John Tortorella who told reporters this week that this was indeed the case.
"He wants out," said Tortorella during a media availability.
It now would appear to only be a matter of time before we see Dubois wearing new colors and the betting favorite right now to acquire him is his hometown team the Montreal Canadiens. NHL insider Nick Kypreos reported this week that Dubois' "first destination choice" was in fact Montreal, and from the Canadiens perspective you know it would be a marketing dream come true to have a French speaking star on their roster, especially one that was born locally.
But what about the Blue Jackets? Well according to Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch the Habs may have already made Columbus an offer, although I'm not sure it is an offer that will entice the Blue Jackets into pulling the trigger. Hedger reports that he has "heard" that the offer involved Habs forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Habs defenseman Victor Mete, and "something else." Although Hedger has not provided any details on what that third piece might be, I would assume that it likely would be compensation in the form of a draft pick or draft picks.
I'll be honest here I think Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen would likely lose his job if he accepted such an offer, this in spite of the fact that he is coming into any deal involving Dubois from a position of weakness. Although Keikalainen is not in an ideal position for a general manager we do know that the Winnipeg Jets, and reportedly several other teams that have yet to be named, are also very interested in Dubois which likely means that the offers will be competitive.
Although fans in Montreal would love to get Dubois in exchange for a player like Jesperi Kotkaniemi, I suspect that if this deal does come through it will be Habs forward Nick Suzuki, a young center with tremendous upside and team control, going back the other way and not Kotkaniemi.