NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2021
The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports Pierre-Luc Dubois’ apparent trade request is dominating the start of Columbus Blue Jackets’ training camp. Despite signing a two-year contract last week, the 22-year-old center reportedly wants a change of scenery.
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen addressed the rumors yesterday, saying GMs talk about trades all the time, rumors start from there and it’s just part of the business. He also said the familiar line that if Wayne Gretzky could be traded, anybody could be traded.
Hedger felt Kekalainen, Dubois, and head coach John Tortorella’s remarks during yesterday’s press availability essentially confirmed the rumors without confirming them. Tortorella said things would be handled internally within the dressing room similar to how they addressed the final seasons with Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.
“What’s in my head’s in my head,” said Dubois. He stressed he’ll be a good teammate as well as the best player and person he can be.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline also reported on the comments made by Kekalainen, Dubois and Tortorella. He felt the Jackets GM doesn’t appear to have any urgency to trade his first-line center.
Portzline also noted the occasional clashes between Dubois and Tortorella, including a well-publicized one on the bench during a game in last summer’s qualifying-round series against Toronto. However, that’s no indication their relationship is untenable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: From a contract standpoint, Kekalainen doesn’t have to hurry to move Dubois. The young center becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in the summer of 2022. As long as he performs well and maintains a good relationship with his teammates, the Jackets GM can take his time and see if the youngster changes his mind regarding his trade request.
Nevertheless, this is an unwelcome distraction for a club trying to build toward Stanley Cup contender status. Things could go downhill quickly if Dubois struggles or his relationship sours with Kekalainen, Tortorella or his teammates.
Kekalainen might not be in a rush to move Dubois but that doesn’t mean he won’t entertain offers. A suitable pitch, such as a one-for-one swap for another center or a package of picks and prospects that could be used to pry away a quality center from another club in a separate deal, could tempt him to move Dubois.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre reports the Jets have told the media Patrik Laine is off-limits until later in camp for undisclosed reasons. The 22-year-old winger has become a hot topic for trade rumors after his agent suggested last fall it would be mutually beneficial to his client and the Jets if a trade could be arranged.
Accusing the Jets of slapping a gag order on Laine, McIntyre wonders if the club is worried about what the winger might say or if he doesn’t want to talk to the press. He feels it puts Laine’s teammates in the awkward position of having to address the questions about his future with the Jets.
McIntyre wonders if Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff might contact Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to discuss swapping Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois. “Maybe throw in (Jack) Roslovic, to play for his hometown team, and call it a day.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McIntyre admits he’s merely playing armchair GM with that trade suggestion. However, he’s not wrong in his view that the Jets should put Laine front and center to speak for himself and address the speculation. Like Dubois in Columbus, the questions about Laine’s status in Winnipeg ensures he’ll remain a fixture in the rumor mill during this season.
Speaking of Roslovic, Anthony Scultore of The Daily Goal Horn said he spoke with agent Claude Lemieux regarding his client’s situation. Lemieux seemed confident the 23-year-old center will be traded but where remains to be seen.
Scultore said he was told at least half-a-dozen teams expressed interest in Roslovic, suggesting the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild among the possible destinations.