Pierre-Luc Dubois rumors involving the Rangers don't make sense.

Silly season started with a bang yesterday, with a Pierre-Luc Dubois rumor taking center stage with the Rangers. The Rangers are looking to solidify center depth, and Winnipeg seems to be at a crossroads with their team structure. Dubois, or possibly Mark Schiefele, are likely their best bet to get a jump on a retool. The Dubois rumor checks out for the Rangers as well, as he’s young, cost controlled, skilled, and fills an immediate and future need. As per usual, I have thoughts.

1. As mentioned yesterday, ensuring a rumor passes the sniff test is important. For the Rangers, this makes sense as they have a need at center and can deal from a position of strength with their prospects. The Jets just missed the playoffs and while their core isn’t old, it isn’t young either. One of their centers can be used to address multiple areas with younger skill players. Winnipeg needs a little bit of everything, so there is definitely a deal to be made here.

2. What the Dubois rumor lacks is substance beyond Dubois being a target for Chris Drury, and talks are ongoing. It’s easy to draw conclusions from a combination of common sense, prior rumored packages, and what we believe the Rangers will deal from. Starting with the rumored offer for JT Miller, which was Filip Chytil, Nils Lundkvist, and a 1st round pick, we have something tangible to work with.

We also have the Kevin Fiala trade, which was for a 1st round pick and a B prospect. Neither is apples for apples, but it’s at least a framework to go from.

3. Starting with the Miller rumor, we have a trade deadline cost from a team that wasn’t necessarily looking to sell off major assets. They were looking for an offer they couldn’t refuse, and couldn’t get it. Miller also is over a point per game pace and is signed, something Dubois is not. Both of those increase the cost for Miller. And yes, a signed player gets more than an unsigned player, as the latter comes with a risk.

If we use that as the high end for the comparable, then the Fiala trade is the low end. Minnesota wasn’t in the best spot and had to move on from Fiala. Fiala is also a winger, not a center.

4. There seems to be a common theme that the Rangers must part with Kaapo Kakko to land Dubois. While including Kakko may wind up happening, and Winnipeg would be wise to ask, I don’t think that needs to happen. The Dubois rumor is no different than any other big name rumor where we all think it will cost an arm and a leg, and it costs maybe a couple of toes.

The caveat here is that Winnipeg doesn’t need to trade Dubois. He’s an RFA, so he can just take qualifying offers until he hits unrestricted free agency in two years. There’s no leverage situation like we saw with Fiala or even Jack Eichel.

5. So we start with Kakko, a position of strength for the Rangers assuming Vitali Kravtsov sticks with the Rangers. Kakko for Dubois straight up seems lopsided for the Rangers, but given everything just mentioned, it may be enough one for one, or with a mild sweetener like Matthew Robertson.

But perhaps the Rangers don’t even need to deal someone from their current roster. Nils Lundkvist must be dealt this summer to maintain value (more on that in a future post) and is NHL ready. He’s blocked by the trio of right handed defensemen on the Rangers roster, so he’s the big name piece that would go. After that, perhaps a 1st round pick or an A-/B+ prospect like Will Cuylle is enough to make it work?

I’d prefer the Rangers hold onto that 2023 1st round pick and move on from prospects that are blocked. Does something like Lundkvist, Kravtsov, and Robertson get the job done?

6. One thing is for sure, it doesn’t make sense to trade Filip Chytil in a trade like this, as you’re just making a sideways move at center. The goal is to bolster center and add to Zibanejad and Chytil, not remove from it. Chytil isn’t a non-starter, and Chytil can certainly be in this deal, but the Rangers would need to have another plan in place to address replacing Chytil if needed.

7. The Dubois rumor is also light on what his next contract will look like. Dubois is two seasons away from unrestricted free agency, not three like I previously thought. Evolving-Hockey has him pegged for a 4 year contract around $6 million. A four year contract does take him to his age-28 season, and in line for one last huge payday. He could also take a two year deal and hit free agency at 26 years old. There seems to be disagreement over what Dubois will get, but I trust the EH guys and their contract projections, which have about an 80% hit rate.

8. Make no mistake, if the Rangers get him at the right cost, Dubois instantly gives the Rangers Stanley Cup center depth with he and Zibanejad as the 1A/1B down the middle. Dubois and Artemiy Panarin already have some great history together, and Dubois is tenacious on the forecheck, complementing Panarin’s style and addressing a huge weakness on the second line. If there are no moves off the roster, then you wind up with a top-six of Kreider-Zibanejad-Lafreniere and Panarin-Dubois-Kakko. That’s arguably an upgrade from the final product the Rangers sent out in the 2022 playoffs.

9. One last point: I don’t think the Dubois rumor would link Patrik Nemeth or Alex Georgiev to this deal. Winnipeg doesn’t need another middle aged bottom pair defenseman making over $2 million, and they don’t need Georgiev at all. Shedding that duo would have to be done in separate trades, hopefully to recoup some picks.