Pierre-Luc Dubois was traded to the Winnipeg Jets by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.
Winnipeg also received a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
The trade was made two days after Dubois was benched and played an NHL-career low 3:55 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Pierre-Luc has been an important part of our team the past four seasons, but this was the right time for both parties to move in a different direction,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.
The 22-year-old center was a restricted free agent this offseason before signing a two-year, $10 million contract with the Blue Jackets on Dec. 31. He scored one goal in five games this season.
“I definitely have to be better,” Dubois said Friday. “As hockey players, we all want to be out there, we all want to be able to help the team make a difference. I can acknowledge that I can be better. I can be a better player. I haven’t had the start of the season that I wanted.”
Columbus coach John Tortorella on Jan. 13 confirmed that Dubois told the Blue Jackets he no longer wanted to play for them. Tortorella said the decision to bench Dubois was the culmination of how the coach felt about his play through the first five games; he did not equate it to the trade request.
“As long as I’m here, I am not letting that slide because that is how we are able to stay and grow as a team here,” Tortorella said. “We don’t have the superstars. It’s a small market. A lot of things come with this. But when you play as a team, and we have progressed the past three or four years in understanding that, then you start growing as a team. Not one … person is going to affect us and try to bring that down from this standard. I won’t allow it.”
Dubois led the Blue Jackets with 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 70 games last season, when he averaged 17:56 of ice time per game.
Columbus has lost four of its first five games (1-2-2) and is tied for 28th in the NHL averaging 2.00 goals per game.
“You name it, it’s not to the level I want it to be at,” Dubois said. “I only have one job and it’s to go out there and help the team win. There’s no gray area, it’s a yes or no answer. If you did help the team, you did your job, and if you didn’t, then you didn’t do it.”
The No. 3 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Dubois scored 159 points (66 goals, 93 assists) in 239 regular-season games and 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Laine, a 22-year-old forward, has not played since the season opener Jan. 14 because of an undisclosed injury, and can become a restricted free agent after this season. His agent, Mike Liut, suggested during the offseason a trade might be best for Laine, who is playing the final season of a two-year, $13.5 million contract ($6.75 million average annual value) he agreed to Sept. 27, 2019.
“Even Wayne Gretzky got traded,” Laine said Jan. 4. “People get traded all the time. It’s part of the game you need to be aware of.”
Laine scored two goals with an assist in his only game this season, a 4-3 overtime win against the Calgary Flames.
The No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft, Laine has scored 140 goals in his five seasons, ninth in the NHL over that span. He scored 63 points (28 goals, 35 assists) in 68 games last season, his fewest goals in his first four NHL seasons, but his points-per-game average (0.93) was his highest.
Laine also has 110 assists for 250 points in 306 regular-season games, and 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 24 playoff games. Last season, he injured his wrist in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Flames on Aug. 1 and missed the remainder of the series, which the Jets lost in four games.
Roslovic, who was an unsigned restricted free agent, agreed to terms on a two-year, $3.8 million contract ($1.9 million average annual value) with the Blue Jackets on Saturday. The 23-year-old forward, who is a Columbus native, scored 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 71 games last season.
The No. 25 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, he has scored 67 points (26 goals, 41 assists) in 180 regular-season games and had five assists in 20 playoff games.
“Strengthening our lineup offensively has been a priority for us and the additions of Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic accomplish just that,” Kekalainen said. “Patrik is a player we know very well and in a short time has become one of our league’s most proficient goal scorers. Jack is an exciting young player with great potential and we’re thrilled to bring him home to Columbus as a Blue Jacket.”
It is unclear when Dubois will be available to play for the Jets or Laine for the Blue Jackets due to coronavirus issues related to the United States-Canada border. According to The Athletic, Roslovic has been in Columbus since the offseason, and would not be subject to any quarantine related to crossing the border.
NHL.com senior staff writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report