The Los Angeles Kings are expected to acquire center Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets, per reports. Dubois, 25, was set to become a restricted free agent once the NHL calendar flips in July before free agency. Dubois is also expected to sign an 8-year, $68 million extension with Los Angeles as part of the deal, per Chris Johnston of TSN.
Update — Below we mention the potential package going to Winnipeg. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet is saying he believes it will be Vilardi, Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and a 2024 second-round pick. The deal is official and Dreger’s details are accurate:
Pending trade call the Jets and Kings complete a marathon trade. Pierre-Luc Dubois to LA. Iafallo, Vilardi, Kupari and a 2nd in 2024 (orig Mtl’s pick) to Winnipeg for PLD. As @reporterchris reported, extension for PLD in LA is 8 years, $8.5 aav.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 27, 2023
There have been reports of the package going back to Los Angeles but nothing is official. The Jets are reportedly may have to buy out the contract of forward Blake Wheeler to make the deal work. Wheeler is set to make $8.25 million in the final year of his current contract for 2023-24. That buyout would also carry a small cap hit, plus whatever contracts the Kings send to Winnipeg.
Reports have been hinting at the deal being centered around forwards Alex Iafallo and Gabe Vilardi. Iafallo has two years remaining on his deal worth an average annual value of $4 million. Vilardi is a pending restricted free agent but could sign a new deal with Winnipeg after the deal. Chances are some prospects/picks could also be changing sides.
The Kings had a surplus of talent/players they needed to move this offseason. Among those were defensemen Sean Walker and Sean Durzi, both of whom were dealt recently. Los Angeles has Kevin Fiala, Adrian Kempe and Phillip Danault signed long-term. Captain Anze Kopitar has one year remaining on his deal worth $10 million before he hits free agency next summer. Dubois could slide into that top-line center role. The Kings could also view Kempe or Quinton Byfield as the first-line center of the future.
This is an amazing deal for the Jets. Winnipeg makes out like bandits. You get two NHL forwards in Iafallo and Vilardi. Both could end up being better than Dubois in 2023-24 or in the near future. Kupari is 23 years old and was a first-rounder back in 2018. He’s played 130 NHL games and still has room to develop into a good bottom-6 forward. The Jets also get a pick for next season as a sweetener.