It’s no secret this is going to be an off-season of change for the Winnipeg Jets. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff got an extension and the team must decide the direction it’s going. Winnipeg has been interviewing head coach candidates like Barry Trotz. However, the next big pressing matter is a new Pierre-Luc Dubois deal.
The 23-year-old netted a career-high 28 goals this season in 81 games. Dubois looked like he finally settled into life as a Jet after a tumultuous 2020-21 campaign. The Ste-Agathe-Des-Monts, Quebec native was third in goals on the team and peaked just in time for a new deal.
Dubois is a restricted free agent and is arbitration eligible. He’s at the end of a contract that paid him $5 million per season that he signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
We look at what a Pierre-Luc Dubois deal may look like and what scenarios could play out.
A Look at a Pierre-Luc Dubois Deal
Murat Ates of The Athletic laid out a few different scenarios for the winger in a recent article. Dubois could choose anything from betting on himself with a short-term or bridge deal or possibly long-term security. He turns 24 in over a month and has been showing the hype that he’s lived up to since his star days in the QMJHL.
“PLD” is someone that Cheveldayoff wants to nail down long-term because he gave up Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to acquire him. Winnipeg management is going to do all it can to keep Dubois. Any notion of a trade shouldn’t go through the head of Jets fans until they’re staring it in the face.
The Jets did disappoint and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016-17. Winnipeg has to make some tough choices, but getting a Dubois deal done is paramount.
A Jets fan’s heart may sink when hearing that word and there can be cause for concern. However, it may not be as bad as one thinks. Arbitration can be messy if both sides are far apart, but it could lead to a long-term deal.
Neal Pionk filed for arbitration last season, but the hearing never happened. Both sides came to a deal that saw Pionk get a $5.875 million deal that runs until the end of 2024-25. Arbitration could be the kick up the backside both sides need to get something done.
Fans have a right to be worried, but shouldn’t immediately dread if PLD does this. It could be the first in the chain reaction to seeing him leaving, but a deal could be settled before that.
This is a worrisome scenario for Jets fans because a team could back Cheveldayoff into a corner. Offer sheets weren’t a thing until the last couple of seasons. (Looking at you, Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens.) Usually, writers get more mileage out of offer sheet scenarios than actual executives. However, offer sheets seem to be getting more traction because of the flat-cap era.
The one thing is the team making the offer risks significant draft capital if the other team doesn’t match. Montreal is getting a first and a third from Carolina for the Jesperi Kotkaniemi deal. Is someone willing to role the dice and give up picks for a scorer like Dubois?
The offer sheet would force the Jets’ brass to make a decision. A sheet would likely get a bigger number than what Cheveldayoff is willing to pay. Signing Dubois to a new contract would keep the offer sheets at bay.
This is a popular option nowadays with the ESPN money waiting in the wings. The players still have a couple more seasons of playing into the salary cap escrow, which is keeping the cap from going up a lot.
Some players have decided to “lay up” to borrow a golf term and hope the television money hits soon. This could mean a free-agent bonanza for players and Dubois may want to take part in it.
Ates’ article didn’t mention this scenario, but it should be looked up as a realistic scenario. Dubois did sign a bridge deal and another short-term one may get him to unrestricted free agency in 2024.
This is the scenario that Jets fans and management would love the most. Dubois decides that his future is with the club and inks a long-term contract.
Ates did do a scenario in an earlier mailbag that a Dubois deal would come in over $7.2 million per season. However, that was before the season he had, which means the asking price likely goes up. Winnipeg is already dreading some of the decisions they’ll have to make and a higher asking price could force more players out the door.
The Jets have Paul Stastny, Zach Sanford, Eric Comrie and Adam Brooks as UFAs. (The latter two are group six UFAs.) Another main worry is the other RFAs besides Dubois in Evgeny Svechnikov, Mason Appleton and Jansen Harkins. Appleton looks like he’ll seemingly get a raise and that leaves the others up in the air.
What it Means
A Dubois trade shouldn’t be in the cards, but don’t completely rule it out. Dubois wants his payday and the Jets want flexibility to keep their roster together.
Whether it’s a long-term or a short-term deal, expect Dubois to get $7-9 million for his next deal. We’ll be $7.5 to $8.25 million to narrow the focus a bit more. Winnipeg needs to find a way to get a deal done for one of its top scorers.