Silly season is starting early this year and the Los Angeles Kings have been tossed into a handful of rumors to kick it off.
In the latest episode of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman said, “There are some teams here who really think LA is going to take a run at (Dubois.)” Which started a frenzy of people discussing Dubois to Los Angeles.
So, you have a pretty loose link there between the Kings and Dubois. But given Friedman’s track record, we can take it seriously.
But the Kings shouldn’t be looking at Dubois too seriously.
Why Dubois Doesn’t Fit:
First and foremost, Dubois is an excellent player. He would absolutely help the Kings and make them a better team. But a good player isn’t always the right player.
He doesn’t address any of the King’s big needs this summer. He certainly doesn’t help them in net and would actually be a barrier to fixing that issue.
And the Kings simply don’t need another star forward in their lineup.
The Kings finished 11th last season in goal scoring, more firepower up front shouldn’t be a priority.
Outside of goaltending, the next area the Kings need to focus on is their penalty kill. Something Dubois doesn’t do.
On top of that, the Kings don’t need another center. Anze Kopitar is a better player than Dubois still and there’s no reason to believe that changes next season. So, you’d be bringing Dubois in to take Phil Danault’s spot on the second line.
Great, but why? You’d be fixing an issue that doesn’t exist by adding Dubois to the center pool.
Yes, Dubois can play wing and as a big body could work well on the top line with Kopitar and Adrian Kempe, but the Kings already have an abundance of wingers.
Then there’s the cost issue. Dubois’ going to command a big asset plus add-ons. A package that starts with one of Quinton Byfield, Brandt Clarke or Gabe Vilardi is what makes this happen. The Kings would have to give up a premier asset to acquire a player they don’t really need.
Factor in his next contract, and this deal makes even less sense. A pending RFA this summer, Dubois is expected to sign for around $9 million per year. Meaning the Kings have to clear out another $2 million in cap space to afford him. Giving themselves no money to re-sign a goalie or fill out the rest of their roster.
Ignoring the reality that this deal would be almost impossible from a money perspective. Vilardi is another big reason the Kings shouldn’t seek this deal.
These are two very similar players in both size and playstyle. And I think Vilardi closes the production gap between the two soon. Dubois is coming off a career-high, 27 goals and 63 points in 73 games. A 30-goal, 71-point season over 82 games.
That’s a great season, but would anyone be surprised to see Vilardi post similar numbers in the near future? I wouldn’t be. Dubois has the benefit of playing the premier position, but we’ve seen glimpses of Vilardi up the middle recently too.
Then there’s Byfield. The Kings have already blocked his path up the middle since drafting him and would compound that issue with Dubois. Byfield needs to be better and needs to force his way into a top-six center spot. But at some point, the Kings also need to set him up for success. And trading for another center doesn’t do that.
So, in trading for Dubois, the Kings would give up at least one premier asset for a player they can’t afford, who doesn’t fix any of the problems on their team and makes it almost impossible to fix their glaring issues.
Trading for Dubois feels like buying an expensive sports car while missing your mortgage payment. Sure, it’s cool and fun to show off, but you’re ignoring a far bigger problem at home.
The Argument for Dubois:
Having said all of that, there are a few reasons why the Kings would make this deal.
If they’re hellbent on winning at all costs with Kopitar and Drew Doughty still playing at a high level, then going all in for another star makes some sense. Again, only if they fix their real problems first.
And Dubois is a great player who’s entering his prime years. Trading for a player like that is never a “bad trade” but can be an unnecessary one.
If the Kings have lost faith in Byfield as a future number-one center, then I can see them making this trade, as they need someone to take over for Kopitar when he starts to decline.
But I’d also be hesitant to put that expectation on Dubois. He isn’t, and likely never will be, a Kopitar-level player. At 24, almost 25, his career-high is 63 points and he hasn’t been a 1C up to this point.
Dubois strikes me as an elite 2C, but fairly average 1C. And that isn’t a knock on Dubois, but when compared to the truly elite players in the league, he’s a step or two below.
So, again, even though there are some arguments to be made for Dubois, I don’t think they’re legitimate.
He makes the team better because he is a very good player. But doesn’t address any issues now, and even if you feel like you need an heir apparent to Kopitar, he doesn’t really fit that mold either.
The last thing I want to touch on with Dubois is some people’s opinion that he’s toxic or a locker room “cancer” because he’s requested a trade in both Columbus and Winnipeg.
Even if you don’t like players requesting traded, stop making assumptions about how players act or fit into a locker room. No one, not even the media, really knows the locker room dynamic behind closed doors so you shouldn’t make assumptions.
People said the same thing about Jack Eichel and even Ryan O’Reilly when they requested trades out of Buffalo and all of the “issues” suddenly disappeared on their new team. Dialing back the clock, the same could be said about Jeff Carter in Columbus.
This has less to do with the Kings and is more of an overall PSA. Don’t make statements about players off the ice personality or their fit in the locker room as if they’re facts. You don’t know, because none of us do.
Blake Should Steer Clear:
Rob Blake’s done a good job early this summer by shedding cap space and re-signing Gavrikov. He doesn’t need to then go and blow it all up with another huge deal.
He even said as much in his exit interview. This isn’t the summer for another big swing.
Of course, he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at least call about everyone good player on the market. But those calls shouldn’t lead to anything more serious.