NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2021
The latest on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ efforts to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Boom. Told that the Blue Jackets are also sending a third-round pick to Winnipeg as part of this blockbuster deal. https://t.co/ZtyyhiV5aP
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 23, 2021
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman was among several pundits last night reporting on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ efforts to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen is reportedly aggressively shopping the 22-year-old center after he was benched for most of Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Friedman speculates a deal could come as early as Saturday morning
Sources claim the Winnipeg Jets are offering up a package that includes forward Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, a Columbus native who’s currently unsigned. The Anaheim Ducks are believed to have increased their offer while the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens are said to be among the suitors. Friedman reports it’s not believed the Canadiens are willing to include center Nick Suzuki in their offer.
Friedman’s colleague Chris Johnston tweeted the Jets are believed to have the best offer on the table. The Blue Jackets are continuing to gauge the market to see if they’ll get better offers.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports it’s unclear if Dubois will be enough to land Laine and Roslovic or if the Jackets will have to sweeten the pot. The Jets are said to be in the market for a defenseman. Laine is a restricted free agent this summer and getting him to agree to a long-term extension will be a concern for the Jackets. Portzline speculates it could cost around $2 million annually to sign Roslovic.
It’s unknown what the Ducks and Canadiens are offering. Portzline believes the Jackets would be interested in top prospects such as the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras or the Canadiens’ Cole Caufield.
In a recent mailbag segment, Lisa Dillman was asked if the Los Angeles Kings should pursue Dubois. She feels there’s no trade fit between the Kings and Blue Jackets, pointing out the Jackets will want a player in return who gives them some version of what Dubois gives them. Promising young Kings prospects like Alex Turcotte and Quinton Byfield have yet to play an AHL game, let alone an NHL contest.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards believes the Panthers should get into the bidding for Dubois. He could fill the second-line center role behind Aleksander Barkov, giving the Panthers a solid one-two punch down the middle. Panthers general manager Bill Zito is former assistant GM of the Blue Jackets and knows Dubois and Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen well. Richards doubts a package of draft picks and prospects will get it done because the Jackets aren’t in rebuild mode.
TSN: The Panthers are among Frank Seravalli’s list of seven teams that don’t have an interest in Dubois or the assets to acquire him. The Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights are the others.
Seravalli wondered if the Canadiens would part with Jesperi Kotkaniemi to land Dubois. His colleague, Pierre LeBrun, listed the Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Arizona Coyotes reached out to the Jackets.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins are not among the clubs pursuing Dubois.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes as many as 20 teams have reached out to Kekalainen about Dubois. However, he doubts the Senators are among them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois could be traded to one of the aforementioned teams by the time you read this. On the other hand, this could drag on throughout the weekend or perhaps longer. It’ll be interesting to see what the deal looks like when it finally goes down.
Kekalainen wants to trade Dubois as soon as possible. The center’s benching on Thursday created a festering situation that threatens to worsen if left unaddressed. Nevertheless, he’s not going to just give him away. He’ll want a return that provides immediate help to his struggling roster.
Many of the teams linked to Dubois could merely be doing due diligence. They’re understandably interested in the two-way center but could quickly back away once they learn about the asking price. Still, one of them could surprise with a last-minute offer that meets the Jackets’ requirements.
That return could come from the Jets if Laine and Roslovic are part of a package deal but the Jets will certainly want more than Dubois in return. A defenseman might have to be included in that package.
The Canadiens have been linked to Dubois for some time with speculation suggesting Suzuki or Kotkaniemi will have to be part of the package. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin could be reluctant to part with either promising youngster especially given their roles in the Habs’ strong start to this season.
I’m not sure what the Ducks could offer up besides Zegras to the Blue Jackets. Maybe GM Bob Murray packages Zegras with another young forward like Sam Steel, Max Comtois or Max Jones.
The Flames already seem set with Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan as their top-two centers. They may have to part with one of them or perhaps a winger like Johnny Gaudreau to make this work.