Kent Hughes' Smartest Move as Canadiens GM Emerges: Resisting the Urge to Trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois Dodged an Expensive Bullet

Aaron Itovitch
December 15, 2023  (8:38 PM)

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

The saga surrounding the major trade of Pierre-Luc Dubois last year and during the off-season has indeed been eventful.

The speculation was rampant, particularly given the Montreal Canadiens' interest in acquiring the Quebec-born player.
As we now know, Dubois ultimately headed to Los Angeles with an eight-year contract worth $8.5 million annually, in exchange for Gabe Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, and a 2024 second-round pick.
This trade cost the Kings dearly in terms of the assets given up for Dubois' services and from a salary cap perspective. The California organization allocated 10.2% of its financial resources to add Dubois, who is currently serving as the team's third center and is the 6th most utilized forward despite being the second-highest paid.
Although the Kings are among the top-performing teams this season, Dubois' performance has been disappointing, especially considering his hefty contract.
To date, he has only scored 12 points, including five goals, in 26 games. This production places him ninth in team scoring. At this rate, he would finish the season with just 16 goals and 38 points, potentially his worst NHL season.
Moreover, in his last 13 games, the Ste-Agathe-des-Monts native has only accumulated four points, with no goals in his last nine appearances.
Conversely, Vilardi, who returned to L.A. for the first time since the trade on Wednesday, scored four points in a Winnipeg Jets victory. He has seven points in 10 games this season.
Even Iafallo, another piece of the Dubois trade, has more points than Dubois this season with a total of 13, despite not scoring in his last 12 games.
It seems Kent Hughes may have dodged a bullet in the Dubois case.
While Dubois might have fared better with the Canadiens, considering his performance this season, if he had been traded for a player like Kaiden Guhle, as demanded by the Jets, and signed a contract over $8 million annually, the reaction in Montreal would likely be quite different now.
Hughes' decision to pull back from negotiations for the 25-year-old forward appears to have been the right move.