I don’t expect Pierre-Luc Dubois, Connor Hellebuyck or Blake Wheeler to be with the Winnipeg Jets next year.
Dubois, for his part, may have done the Jets a small favour by opening up the market beyond his hometown of Montreal.
The Jets don’t want a trade based purely on futures. Winnipeg wants players who can help them compete for the playoffs. The Canadiens’ most coveted assets — Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, even Kirby Dach — are off limits, and fairly so: Montreal has a roster where anyone Winnipeg might ask for is someone the Canadiens would rightly keep. Yet it remains fair to characterize a pre-draft Dubois trade as likely.
Enter Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is one of Dubois’ preferred destinations — an idea we explored last week, putting the Kings at the top of our list. The Kings have a wealth of less untouchable trade assets. Gabriel Vilardi could be the focal point — a big, intelligent, skilled right-handed centre whose 41 points in 63 games were a big step forward for a player thought to have more in the tank. I don’t think the Kings would move on from Quentin Byfield, as appears to be the Jets fan base’s No. 1 ask. Regardless of price, or package built around a Vilardi-type player, I think that a Dubois sign-and-trade could see the 24-year-old power forward shipped west and not east as previously thought.
As for Hellebuyck, you’ve read it in The Athletic’s trade board: “There should be no confusion about whether Hellebuyck has interest in signing an extension in Winnipeg. That ship has sailed. His next contract will be with a new team.”