Winnipeg also received a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
The trade was made two days after Dubois was benched and played an NHL-career low 3:55 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Pierre-Luc has been an important part of our team the past four seasons, but this was the right time for both parties to move in a different direction,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “We’ve been working on this for a while and we always said it could take a while until we find the right deal, but if the right deal is on the table we’re ready to move fast. So just everything came together and we’re happy with the deal.”
Dubois, a 22-year-old center, was a restricted free agent this offseason before signing a two-year, $10 million contract with the Blue Jackets on Dec. 31. He scored one goal in five games this season.
“I definitely have to be better,” Dubois said Friday. “As hockey players, we all want to be out there, we all want to be able to help the team make a difference. I can acknowledge that I can be better. I can be a better player. I haven’t had the start of the season that I wanted.”
Columbus coach John Tortorella on Jan. 13 confirmed that Dubois told the Blue Jackets he no longer wanted to play for them. Tortorella said the decision to bench Dubois was the culmination of how the coach felt about his play through the first five games; he did not equate it to the trade request.
“As long as I’m here, I am not letting that slide because that is how we are able to stay and grow as a team here,” Tortorella said. “We don’t have the superstars. It’s a small market. A lot of things come with this. But when you play as a team, and we have progressed the past three or four years in understanding that, then you start growing as a team. Not one … person is going to affect us and try to bring that down from this standard. I won’t allow it.”
Dubois led the Blue Jackets with 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 70 games last season, when he averaged 17:56 of ice time per game.
The No. 3 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Dubois scored 159 points (66 goals, 93 assists) in 239 regular-season games and 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“I think the best trades are always the type of trades that help both teams and I think in this case that’s what happened,” Kekalainen said. “They’re going to get a good player, we’re going to get two good players and we both move on.”
Columbus has lost four of its first five games (1-2-2) and is tied for 28th in the NHL averaging 2.00 goals per game entering play Saturday. The Blue Jackets are hoping Laine, a 22-year-old forward, can help their power play, which has scored one goal this season (1-for-11, 9.7 percent). Laine has scored 52 power-play goals in the NHL.
“Patrik Laine is just a pure goal scorer,” Kekalainen said. “He scored 36 goals at 18 years old in the National Hockey League. I think his best year is 44 goals. … We have a weapon for our power play that we may have not had before. … But this is going to add, both those guys potentially are adding to our skill on offense and power play.”
Laine has not played since the season opener Jan. 14 because of an upper-body injury, and can become a restricted free agent after this season. His agent, Mike Liut, suggested during the offseason a trade might be best for Laine, who is playing the final season of a two-year, $13.5 million contract ($6.75 million average annual value) he agreed to Sept. 27, 2019.
“Even Wayne Gretzky got traded,” Laine said Jan. 4. “People get traded all the time. It’s part of the game you need to be aware of.”
Laine scored two goals with an assist in his only game this season, a 4-3 overtime win against the Calgary Flames.
Laine, who was selected No. 2 in the 2016 draft, one pick before Dubois, has scored 140 goals in his five seasons, ninth in the NHL over that span. He scored 63 points (28 goals, 35 assists) in 68 games last season, his fewest goals in his first four NHL seasons, but his points-per-game average (0.93) was his highest.
“I can tell you right from the draft, we drafted Pierre-Luc at No. 3 and Patrik Laine was No. 2 and we would’ve given a lot to move up from three to two at that time and we’re very excited to have Patrik Laine join us,” Kekalainen said. “There’s a price to be paid for an elite player like he is, and I think Jack Roslovic is going to be a huge part of this whole trade. He’s a guy that we wanted to draft, couldn’t get it done, obviously.”
Laine also has 110 assists for 250 points in 306 regular-season games, and 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 24 playoff games. Last season, he injured his wrist in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Flames on Aug. 1 and missed the remainder of the series, which the Jets lost in four games.
Roslovic, who was an unsigned restricted free agent, agreed to terms on a two-year, $3.8 million contract ($1.9 million average annual value) with the Blue Jackets on Saturday. The 23-year-old forward, who is a Columbus native, scored 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 71 games last season.
The No. 25 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, he has scored 67 points (26 goals, 41 assists) in 180 regular-season games and had five assists in 20 playoff games.
“Every time we’ve had any trade talks with Winnipeg, I’ve asked about Jack Roslovic,” Kekalainen said. “He’s a hometown boy and we think he can play center in the National Hockey League. He’s got tremendous speed and skill and hockey sense.”
It is unclear when Dubois will be available to play for the Jets or Laine for the Blue Jackets due to coronavirus issues related to the United States-Canada border.
“Jack Roslovic has already basically joined our COVID protocol with getting tested, so we’ll announce when he’s available,” Kekalainen said. “I think it should be a 48-hour process with getting tested and cleared. Patrik Laine is a little bit more complicated. He’s day to day, injured right now, on IR, retroactively he’s been there for a week. But there’s also a visa process that he has to go through. So he has to get a working visa for the U.S. and then go through the protocol once he arrives here. We’re going to do everything we can to speed up that process and he’ll get here when he gets here.”
The last time two players selected in the top five of the same NHL Draft were traded for each other was Jan. 23, 1996, when the Ottawa Senators traded forward Bryan Berard (No. 1, 1995 NHL Draft), goalie Don Beaupre and forward Martin Straka to the New York Islanders for defenseman Wade Redden (No. 2, 1995 draft) and goalie Damian Rhodes.