After days of speculation surrounding the LA Kings and Winnipeg Jets centerman Pierre-Luc Dubois, the two sides agreed to a trade that sent Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari, and a second-round pick in 2024 to Winnipeg, with Dubois heading to Los Angeles.
We have acquired forward Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for F Alex Iafallo, F Rasmus Kupari, F Gabriel Vilardi and a second-round draft pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.
In addition, Dubois agreed to terms on an eight-year contract.
More details 📲… pic.twitter.com/O85qzDMuva
— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 27, 2023
LA and Dubois agreed to an extension that will pay him $8.5M per year for the next eight seasons.
The 25-year-old Dubois is coming off a season where he registered 63 points in 73 games and was a Restricted Free Agent (RFA). After letting Winnipeg know he would not be signing long-term, the team found a suitor for Dubois, who had previously been heavily linked to the Montreal Canadiens.
“We wanted to be as clear as possible with the Jets and the whole organization that this is the route we wanted to take,” said Dubois speaking to the media after the trade. “I saw an opportunity with the LA Kings that to me was like a dream come true.”
Hard to play against and not afraid of the physical part of the game, Dubois brings his big 6’4″ frame to the middle of the ice for the Kings. The team was looking to add a more imposing presence down the middle of the ice, and they checked that box with Dubois.
“Size is important,” said LA Kings General Manager Rob Blake. “And size in the middle of the ice too. That was one of the pieces that we would have hoped to have added this summer.”
There’s no question that Dubois provides impressive depth at the center position for the LA Kings, as he’ll likely slot in between Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault in the top nine while Blake Lizotte rounds out the new spine of the team’s forward group.
“You’ve got to be deep,” said Blake. “You see the top teams in the West, and to be able to have to match them, you have to be deep throughout. Those four centermen will be key for that lineup.”
With the offseason still young, we have a while to wait for who Dubois may play with, though it seems likely that Kevin Fiala could be a possibility.
Regarding the assets going to Winnipeg, Vilardi is coming off a breakout season in his own right, scoring 41 points in 63 games. The former 11th overall pick has battled injuries in his young career but showed a glimpse of what his ceiling could be during last season. The centerpiece of this trade, Vilardi, was also an RFA, and it was reported that the Kings and Vilardi had yet to discuss a contract extension.
The two-way Iafallo has been a staple in the Kings’ lineup since he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of college in 2017. An underrated forward for what he brings on the defensive side of the puck, he will play a middle-six role for a Winnipeg team that is looking to remain competitive. The 29-year-old has two years left at a $4M AAV.
Kupari etched out a role on the fourth line last season and became an effective penalty-killer for the Kings. A talented prospect, Kupari hadn’t yet shown the offensive part of his game, and that would have been something the Kings would have hoped for heading into the 2023-24 season. The 23-year-old is an RFA this summer.
In the end, the LA Kings decided to trade multiple depth pieces in exchange for a more proven top-six center. With the team’s goal of contending for a Stanley Cup now, this type of trade makes plenty of sense. The team is deep on the wings in the organization, and this presents an opportunity for Arthur Kaliyev and Samuel Fagemo to play more prominent roles in Los Angeles.
Per Cap Friendly, the Kings have just over $4.5M in cap space with only 16 players under contract. They also only have one goaltender signed to play in LA in Pheonix Copley. Blake will have plenty yet to do to complete his roster this offseason, but he took a step toward being a better team after adding Dubois.
“We’re trying to build a team to win and to be competitive,” said Blake. “You have to be deep. We have good leaders in the middle.”
(Main Photo Credit: David Becker/CP)