A 22-year-old number one center in the transaction market? It’s rare. Very rare.
Posted on January 24, 2021 at 7:45 a.m.
A number one center in the transaction market AND from Quebec?
Wait. I have to go down to the basement. That I find my old media guides, buried under a pile of old children’s school books. Ah, there you go ! So there was Jonathan Drouin. But he was neither established in the center nor on the first line. Alexandre Daigle? He was playing on the wing. No, we have to go back even further.
Pierre Turgeon was then transferred from the Buffalo Sabers to the New York Islanders. (He came to Montreal three years later.)
This is why hockey fans here have followed Pierre-Luc Dubois’ soap opera with as much attention as a final of District 31. For the first time in 30 years, the Canadian had the chance to acquire a young elite francophone center, already established in the NHL. To add a local star who would have propelled the club to the rank of favorite in his division. An event as rare as the passage of Halley’s comet.
Then Pierre-Luc Dubois was traded to the Winnipeg Jets …
* * *
Is that bad ? Is Dubois that good?
For sure, if the only 45 seconds you saw of him were when he last appeared with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, you weren’t impressed. With reason. It was a terrible minute. The worst of his career. It took him 10 seconds to “skate” from the corner of the ice to his bench. His coach – disgusted – ignored him for the rest of the game.
But let’s forget this minute. Instead, let’s focus on the previous 4687 minutes.
During these three seasons, Dubois was among the most explosive young forwards in the National League. A model of consistency and efficiency. A productive, imposing center (6 ft 3 in), which gives its full potential in stressful situations. His eight playoff goals are also a peak among players 22 and under in the NHL.
His attacking statistics compare favorably with those of other young centers drafted for five years.
Points per game at centers drafted since 2016
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs de Toronto : 1,01
Elias Pettersson, Canucks of Vancouver: 0.92
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Winnipeg Jets: 0.67
Nico Hischier, Devils du New Jersey : 0,65
Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadian: 0.61
Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues: 0.55
Martin Necas, Hurricanes de la Caroline: 0.52
* Minimum of 50 games
Note that the names of other players on this list rarely appear in trade rumors. For good reason. These young centers are precious. Their teams are keen on it. However, the relationship between Dubois and his bosses had become stormy. Unsustainable. That’s why Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has put his gem up for auction.
The phone rang.
The Canadian was among the bidders. For a team that aspires to the championship, Pierre-Luc Dubois is a formidable asset. His Quebec origins were also an asset.
But a player of his caliber is expensive. Much more, at least, than the proposition most often heard this week: Pierre-Luc Dubois against Phillip Danault (free agent in 2021), Victor Mete (reservist) and a second round pick. Or first round. And maybe Ryan Poehling. And Jayden Struble. And Mattias Norlinder. And Paul Byron. And the recipe for hot dog sausages of the Bell Center.
Others suggested Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Cole Caufield instead. I did not attend Marc Bergevin and Jarmo Kekalainen’s teleconferences, but I suspect it is already a little closer to reality.
For the Canadian, a Dubois-Kotkaniemi exchange would have been logical. The Canadian’s window of opportunity is open. In the short term, the Quebecer will be more productive than the Finn. On the long term ? We can debate it. The two are comparable.
They are big, strong centers, with a good vision of the game. That said, at the same age, Dubois has always been superior to Kotkaniemi. Being the GM of the Blue Jackets, I would have demanded more.
The other young center of the Canadian.
And there, from the point of view of the Habs, the short-term benefit would have been less obvious. Suzuki, 21, is already a complete center, capable of playing on the first line, on special teams and making important face-offs. He also earns $ 4 million less than Dubois. It is significant. Being the GM of the Canadian, I would not have made this transaction.
Under the circumstances, I find it hard to see how the Canadian could have made a better offer than that of the Winnipeg Jets. Kotkaniemi, 20, is a good hockey player. Its future is bright. Its potential is interesting. But Patrik Laine, whom the Blue Jackets won against Pierre-Luc Dubois, is already an established star. At 22, he scored 140 goals. Among the players drafted for five years, only Auston Matthews has scored more (160). No other player has scored more than 100.
In the transaction, the Blue Jackets also acquired a center, Jack Roslovic, 24, selected in the first round in 2015. Not an elite player. Except he was born, raised and trained in Columbus. A plus for the organization.
The Canadian will therefore have lost the bidding for Dubois. A missed opportunity to get hold of a rare Quebec star on the rise. But considering the final price of the transaction, you know what?
It might be better this way.
Your best translations
On Saturday, I asked you to find the right words to describe sporting situations that are difficult to translate. You have submitted hundreds of proposals. I’m reading all of this and getting back to you with the best suggestions later this week!