If all goes well, Pierre-Luc Dubois will make his debut with the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
Dubois has been quarantining in isolation since he arrived the day he was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets in what will probably be the season’s biggest blockbuster deal.
Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic were sent to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Dubois on January 23, plus Winnipeg received a third-rounder for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
Dubois’ quarantine will end Saturday and he’ll practice with the Jets Sunday, with their next game against the Calgary Flames scheduled for Tuesday.
“I’m trying to be very optimistic,” Dubois said via NHL.com Thursday. “I think it’ll be good on the ice. This won’t be like the summer when you don’t work out for two or three weeks then you start again in midsummer. I’ve played five games, we had training camp, and I skated a lot more this offseason because of the way things were, so I’m hopeful.”
The centre said that the Jets have been including him in video meetings and giving him resources to get caught up on workouts and team concepts.
“They’ve called before games and told me to watch these things or how this team does it,” he said. “…They’ve been really helpful to get me ready for when I jump in the lineup so I’m not starting at zero. I can start somewhere in the middle of the ladder. And it’s always fun to talk about hockey, so they’ve been really helpful.”
Dubois requested a trade out of Columbus just a short while after signing a two-year contract worth $10 million. He scored one goal in five games for the Blue Jackets this season and had a not-too-pleasant exodus, playing his last game January 21 and logging a grand total of 3:55 thanks to a lacklustre shift that got him benched by head coach John Tortorella.
That is, for Dubois at least, all in the past. And now he’s excited for what the future holds.
“When I was a kid, I played hockey because it was my passion and now, playing in the NHL it’s a business and it’s a career, but I want to go back to just playing hockey and having fun in Canada,” said Dubois. “There’s not a country that’s more passionate about hockey in the world. There are no fan bases that are more passionate than here.”
Dubois was drafted third overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the day of his 18th birthday. He debuted in training camp for Columbus that year but returned to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Shortly thereafter, Dubois was traded to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada for Mathias Laferrière and a couple of draft picks.
Dubois debuted for Columbus in the 2017-2018 season, putting together 48 points in 82 games. In 239 career regular season games for the Blue Jackets, he has 66 goals and 93 assists for a total of 159 points.
And now, as he prepares to enter the competitive North Division and take on the likes of Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, the 22-year-old says he’s ready to rumble.
“To this day, going up against big guys and big names and good players – there are a lot of good players in the NHL and that’s what’s fun about it,” he said. “It’s a challenge every night. Who is going to be the best player and who is going to be the best centre? Who is going to be the guy that helps the team win?”