Pierre-Luc Dubois said on Monday that he is committed to the Winnipeg Jets for this upcoming season but did little to quiet the speculation surrounding his future beyond that.
The 24-year-old forward, who was a restricted free agent, signed a one-year, $6 million contract on Friday.
“If I wanted out of Winnipeg, I would have asked for a trade,” Dubois said. “I didn’t ask for a trade. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to show up for (training) camp. Once we figured out the one-year deal was the way to go, we were just waiting for the qualifying offer and waiting for that. Then we signed that, and now I’m going to camp and excited to meet everybody, the new coaching staff and the new players. I talked to coach [Rick Bowness] on Saturday or Sunday, and I’m just really excited to get it going this year.”
Because Dubois signed a qualifying offer with Winnipeg, he will be an RFA again next offseason.
“I find this is a very, very important decision that can’t be made quickly,” Dubois said. “It can only be made after thinking about it a long time, by asking the opinions of my family, my parents, my girlfriend. In the middle of my next contract, I might have a family, you don’t know, there are so many things that could happen that I don’t want to move too quickly and regret it later. When you tell yourself you want to be somewhere a long time, you have to be sure about it not just for the first or second year, but for the length of the contract.”
Reports of Dubois’ desire to leave Winnipeg began to surface when his agent, Pat Brisson, indicated to TVA Sports on July 13 that there is interest from Dubois, a native of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, to play for the Montreal Canadiens.
“Firstly, for [Brisson’s] intent, I don’t know,” Dubois said. “I talked to Pat now that the contract is taken care of, so less now, but we talked a good amount during the week. I wasn’t aware (of his comments) until one of my friends pointed that out to me. I trust Pat, he is my agent. … I think he is the best in the business. If I didn’t think that I wouldn’t be with him. But what he does and what he says, I trust him.
“I am ready to go for the season and next summer will be next summer. Next summer, I’ll be a restricted free agent again, and then it’ll be another decision. But for now, I don’t have to think about this anymore. You try not to think about it because you can’t control it. All I could do was play this year to the best I could and let my agent and the team talk.”
Dubois had 60 points, including an NHL career-high 28 goals, in 81 games for the Jets last season. He also set career highs in power-play goals (15), power-play points (19), game-winning goals (six) and penalty minutes (106).
Selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Dubois has 239 points (102 goals, 137 assists) in 369 regular-season games with the Blue Jackets and Jets, and 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 33 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Dubois was traded to the Jets by the Blue Jackets for forwards Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic on Jan. 23, 2021, two days after he was benched by then-coach John Tortorella in an overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tortorella had confirmed 10 days earlier that Dubois told the team he no longer wanted to play for them.
“Everybody has changed their mind, everybody has had different ideas, everybody has, at some point, liked something and then later realized that no,” Dubois said. “It’s just human nature to change your mind sometimes. That’s why I get you guys have articles to write, but these questions, sometimes these questions, the answers to the questions aren’t as easy as yes or no.”