Pierre LeBrun of TSN Insider Trading is reporting that the agent for Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois’ has informed the club that he isn’t interested in signing any type of contract extension with the team, not even a one year deal that would take him to unrestricted free agency. The timing of the news is a little bit surprising as Gary Bettman doesn’t like these types of stories to break during the Stanley Cup final, however the news itself is one of the worst kept secrets in the NHL.
Dubois reportedly told the Jets last summer that he had no intention of signing a long-term deal to stay in Winnipeg and it appears that the 24-year-old is staying true to his word. Dubois had 27 goals and 36 assists in 73 games this season after signing a one year $6MM contract last summer. He helped lead the Jets to the postseason this year, but it appears that he would prefer his time in Manitoba come to a close sooner rather than later.
Dubois is just one year away from being free to sign with anyone. However, he is under Winnipeg’s control for next season as a restricted free agent and may have handcuffed the Jets if they were to shop him in the trade market. Winnipeg could move on and try to facilitate a trade to meet Dubois request, or they could take him to arbitration and accept a one-year deal and lose him as a free agent next summer. While neither option is great for the Jets, it could be a launching pad for a lot of movement this summer. The Jets have quite a few very talented players that are approaching unrestricted free agency and may either opt to take one more run at a cup or begin a painful rebuild.
Superstar netminder Connor Hellebuyck, former captain Blake Wheeler, and center Mark Scheifele are all unrestricted free agents next summer and with a potential exodus on the horizon general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff may decide that the more palatable option is to jump start the rebuild now and bring in a boatload of young controllable talent.