Pierre-Luc Dubois has informed the Winnipeg Jets that he intends to test free agency in two years, despite the team reportedly hoping to sign him to a long-term contract, according to Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun.
In simple terms, Dubois — currently a restricted free agent eligible to hit the open market as a UFA in July 2024 — likely wants out, as it’s rare for a player under team control for two more years to inform their current club that they plan on hitting free agency that far down the line.
With the futures of star forward Mark Scheifele and captain Blake Wheeler at least somewhat up in the air and a roster not really built to compete as it currently stands, it’s possible the Jets could decide to begin the inevitable rebuild process sooner rather than later by moving some of their big-time chips.
“I just have to know where this team is going and what the direction is and what the changes are going to be, if any,” Scheifele said in early May, per Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe.
Wheeler, meanwhile, has emerged as a potential trade target for several teams across the league, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported on Wednesday.
“Sources say the Jets have begun to explore the market and engage with teams on the possibility of moving Wheeler,” Seravalli wrote.
“Wheeler has complete control over his destination until July 1, when his full “no-move” clause converts into a five-team list to which he’d accept a trade. The early sense is Wheeler may be willing to consider a proposed destination that also is not on his list, if it’s a proper fit for his family and career,” he added
Dubois posted a career-best 28 goals and 60 points in 81 games during the 2021-22 season, and appeared to be an imperative part of the Jets’ future. After the season ended, Dubois helped Canada win a silver medal at the 2022 IIHF World Championship, recording seven goals and 13 points in 10 games.
Dubois has at times appeared on the cusp of stardom, particularly after a dominant performance against the Maple Leafs in the bubble tournament two summers ago. He can often seem disinterested as well, but the third overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft likely hasn’t peaked, and will be worth the calculated risk for a number of teams looking for a top-six offensive-minded centre.
This isn’t the first time Dubois has purportedly wanted out of his current situation, demanding that the Columbus Blue Jackets move him during the 2020-21 season shortly after signing a two-year, $10-million extension. Dubois and the Blue Jackets eventually reached the point of no return, and he was traded to the Jets, along with a 2022 third-round pick in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.
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