“You’ll know when I bench somebody” was the retort from John Tortorella earlier this week when Pierre-Luc Dubois missed some shifts late in a Columbus Blue Jackets game. Well, he wasn’t lying. Dubois was stapled to the Columbus bench for the second, third, and overtime periods last night, leading to a career-low in ice time of just 3:55. He received just five shifts total and now isn’t sure whether he will be in the lineup for tomorrow’s Blue Jackets game.
You can imagine, when the rest of the league saw what was happening, it may have piqued their interest in the young forward. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, who has been all over Dubois’ discontent since the beginning, tweets that the list of teams he believes have expressed interest include the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Arizona Coyotes. He explains that the list is not exhaustive but believes that the Blue Jackets would not do a “futures-only” deal for the disgruntled forward and that they want it to be a “hockey deal.”
It’s easy to blame Tortorella, who has had very public clashes with players in the past, but Dubois was certainly not playing up to his capabilities in the early part of the game either. In fact, the young forward told reporters including Jacob Myers of the Columbus Dispatch that he knows he could have been better through the first part of the season. It’s not hard to see how that reduced effort may scare some teams off, though the overall upside of a top-line center like Dubois will be difficult to overlook.
The simple fact is that something has turned rotten between player and organization, leading to a midseason trade seeming like an inevitability at this point. The 22-year-old forward has just one point through his first five games and carries a $5MM cap hit through 2021-22, after which he will still be a restricted free agent.