Blue Jackets trade Dubois to Jets for Laine, Roslovic

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Pierre-Luc Dubois is headed to Winnipeg in exchange for Patrik Laine in a blockbuster deal. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Pierre-Luc Dubois is headed to Winnipeg in exchange for Patrik Laine in a blockbuster deal. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

How’s this to start another hockey Saturday?

The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded unhappy burgeoning star centre Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets for high-volume goal scorer Patrik Laine and holdout forward Jack Roslovic, TSN’s Darren Dreger was first to report.

The transaction involving three forwards who each issued trade requests before the start of the season will also involve a third-round draft selection heading to the Jets. Roslovic, meanwhile, will sign a two-year deal with what is his hometown club as part of the agreement.

Things quickly became untenable between Dubois and the Blue Jackets organization following initial word that the fourth-year forward wanted a “bigger stage” to play on. He failed to submit an honest effort for the Blue Jackets through five games, which prompted head coach John Tortorella to sit him for almost an entire game Thursday night in a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Laine’s want to be elsewhere has been in the news longer, but included far fewer dramatics. The Finnish forward demonstrated from the very start of the season that he could park his preferences and simply perform for the Jets, starring in an opening-night victory before since exiting the lineup with an injury.

That said, Laine’s departure from Winnipeg has seemed inevitable for some time, and the only thing holding it back was the right return becoming available on the open market.

At first blush, this seems like a considerable victory for the Blue Jackets, simply because this trade wasn’t made on their terms. There had to be concern that Dubois’s protest would crater his value, so being able to take back a player with a 30-goal floor and who could challenge for goal-scoring titles for years to come — while replacing some of the dynamism lost in Artemi Panarin’s departure two summers ago — seems like a palatable alternative to Dubois.

In addition, Roslovic, a 2015 first-round selection, will slot into the Blue Jackets lineup immediately and will now have the opportunity to meet his potential — something that never materialized in Winnipeg.

All that said, few fans in Winnipeg likely believed the Jets would take back a player as talented as Dubois when Laine was inevitably moved. Dubois was an absolute force and one of the breakout stars of the NHL’s restart last summer, having earned praise from many including Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, who described him as a “baller” following his standout performance in the first round.

For Winnipeg, it’s a move that vastly improves its centre depth while providing more balance to one of the most talented top six forward groups in the NHL. Dubois joins Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny up the middle of the ice for the Jets, and will draw from the talent-rich pool of Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers as linemates.

It’s also worth noting that Dubois is earning almost $2 million less than Laine this season and could be considerably cheaper next year with Laine scheduled for another contract negotiation. Dubois signed a two-year, $10-million extension with Columbus before the start of this season despite his preference to move elsewhere. However, apparently the Jets are retaining some money in the deal.

It will be some time before Dubois makes his debut for the Jets, as he must adhere to the two-week quarantine process after crossing the border.

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