After blockbuster trade, 'hectic' quarantine, Pierre-Luc Dubois ready for his Jets' debut

·4 min read

Over the weekend, Pierre-Luc Dubois emerged from a 14-day quarantine with his bulldogs Phillip and Georgia in a house provided by the Winnipeg Jets.

For two long weeks, Dubois immersed himself in game film provided by his new employer and worked out in his living room. In the morning, he savoured the coffee left on the front step by his mom and dad, who also live in the Manitoba capital.

"In a way, it's been a slow two weeks because I haven't done anything," the 22-year-old said after his first practice Sunday with the Jets. "But in another way, it's been a pretty crazy two weeks, with all the video, watching games, getting ready, meeting guys over text and FaceTime and Zoom, and stuff like that.

"It's been a hectic, yet slow, two weeks."

With the transition period over, it's time for the 6-foot-2, 205-pound centre to author the next chapter of his hockey career on a Winnipeg club loaded with offensive prowess.

WATCH | Rob Pizzo takes a look at the blockbuster Jets-Blue Jackets trade:

Main objectives

The Sainte-Agathe-des Monts, Que., product need not put pressure on himself to dominate the nightly highlights package. His main objectives are to fit into a new dressing room and play the role assigned by head coach Paul Maurice. Dubois is expected to make his debut for the Jets Tuesday against the Calgary Flames.

"The Jets are one of the teams I hated playing against," Dubois said. "They can play fast and physical. They can play offence. They can play D. They can bring everything to the table.

"I think there's a lot of talent in the forward group and whoever you're playing with, you're playing with a really amazing player."

In Sunday's practice, Dubois skated on a line with veteran Trevor Lewis and Winnipeg's leading goal scorer, Kyle Connor.

"Two amazing players," Dubois said. "K.C. is one of the most underrated players in the NHL and Lewie brings that experience, just helping me with all the systems and everything. He can pass the puck, he works really hard, so it felt really great to be out there with those two."

For Dubois, the expectations in Winnipeg are immense, given the Jets acquired him along with a third-round pick from Columbus for disgruntled left wing Patrik Laine and equally disgruntled forward Jack Roslovic.

A third overall pick in 2016, Dubois collected 159 points in his first 239 games. His relationship with Columbus head coach John Tortorella broke down in explosive fashion, and the youngster asked for a change in area code.

Fans in Winnipeg understandably mourned the departure of Laine, a second-overall pick in 2016. At age 22, Laine has the potential to win the Rocket Richard Trophy, as the league's top goal scorer, for many years to come.

Impressive depth

But the Jets now possess arguably the most impressive depth up the middle in the entire NHL with Dubois, Mark Scheifele, Paul Stastny and Adam Lowry.

"That Patrik Laine trade is so tricky to do and the one thing that you can do [is] to make it right to get a centreman," Maurice said, heaping praise on general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. "That's the one way that you can have a goal-scorer leave your team — and he's going to score an awful lot of goals — but if you can bring in a centreman, you've put your team in really good shape for an awfully long time."

Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Under the more-relaxed quarantine rules in the U.S., Laine has already scored three goals in three games for Columbus (Roslovic has collected one goal and six points in six appearances with the Blue Jackets).

Dubois knows he must stay true to himself and not try to be someone he is not — despite the inevitable comparisons to Laine.

"I'm a two-way forward, a two-way centre," he said. "I can play well defensively, play well offensively, I can block shots, I can hit, I can score, I can pass. I try to be the guy that does everything out there – supports his wingers, supports his defencemen, talks…

"Ever since I was a kid, growing up with a dad as a coach, he tried to instil in me details of the game, stuff that doesn't necessarily show up on the stats sheet, but at the end of the game matters."