Kings acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois in blockbuster sign-and-trade with Jets

Pierre-Luc Dubois is coming off the most productive season of his career and joins an upstart Kings team with some horses down the middle.

The Los Angeles Kings have acquired star centerman Pierre-Luc Dubois in a sign-and-trade deal with the Winnipeg Jets, with an impressive package going the other way.

Center Gabriel Vilardi, top-six winger Alex Iafallo and young forward Rasmus Kupari along with a 2024 second-round pick are all heading to the Jets as part of the deal in a tidy bit of work from general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff — who didn't have a whole lot of leverage after Dubois informed the team he didn't plan on extending while essentially asking for a trade earlier this month.

Before the deal could be completed, the Jets inked Dubois to an eight-year contract extension which carries an $8.5-million AAV. Dubois would only have been eligible to sign a seven-year extension with the Kings before Jan 1, hence the reasoning for the sign-and-trade and the complications in getting this done.

Pierre-Luc Dubois is on the move from Winnipeg to Los Angeles. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)
Pierre-Luc Dubois is on the move from Winnipeg to Los Angeles. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Dubois sweepstakes was reportedly down to two teams late Monday night and into Tuesday morning, with the Kings and Montreal Canadiens duking it out to land the big, talented forward. The Kings came out on top, but likely had to give up more than they'd have hoped with Montreal driving up the price.

A deal between LA and Winnipeg seemed imminent over the weekend with the belief that Dubois had decided he wanted to join the Kings, but the two sides were unable to get it done with certain details hitting a snag, opening the door for the Canadiens to make another — ultimately unsuccessful — push for the 25-year-old star.

Clearly there was a lot going on here:

Dubois will join Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault in Los Angeles, forming arguably the NHL's top center-ice trio for the Kings, who were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Oilers for the second consecutive season this past spring.

As far as the haul for Winnipeg goes, Vilardi, Iafallo and Kupari will all have the opportunity to make an immediate impact with the Jets and should, in theory, allow the team to stay competitive rather than plunging into full blown, tear-it-down rebuild amid the likely exodus of several other stars including Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Connor Hellebuyck.

Vilardi, the 11th overall pick in in the 2017 draft, is coming off his first career 20-goal season, putting up 23 tallies and 41 points in 63 games in a third-line role with the Kings. The 23-year-old has 41 goals and 78 points in 152 career NHL games, all with Los Angeles.

Iafollo is a six-year NHL veteran with over 400 games under his belt, posting 204 points including 85 goals during his career after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Kings in 2017. Last season, the 29-year-old potted 14 goals and 36 points in 59 games during the regular season before putting up three goals, including a couple of memorable game-winners, against the Oilers during the first round of the 2023 playoffs.

Kupari, meanwhile, was L.A.'s first-round pick in 2018 (20th overall). The 23-year-old, defensive-minded center out of Finland has had a few stints with the big club, posting nine goals and 20 assists in 130 NHL games so far.

With Dubois in the mix, the Kings have a real shot at being a legitimate contender in the Western Conference next season.