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How the Dubois Trade Impacts Kings’ Roster



Pierre-Luc Dubois Skating up ice

The deal is done, Pierre-Luc Dubois is a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

It was a big trade, with Gabe Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and a 2024 second-round pick going the other way.

Where Dubois Fits:

According to reports, the plan is for Dubois to play center in Los Angeles.

There are some early concerns with his viability up the middle. He finished last season at 48.9% in the faceoff circle, with a career 45.4% win percentage across his career.

Add in defensive concerns and he doesn’t seem like a stereotypical Todd McLellan pivot. Still, that’s where the Kings intend on using him.

On paper, Dubois can take Phil Danault’s spot on the second line, giving the Kings a 1-2-3 punch up the middle of Anze Kopitar, Dubois and Danault. Center depth few teams can match.

What will be more interesting than where they fit on paper is usage and linemates.

In Winnipeg, Dubois started a significant percentage of his faceoffs in the offensive zone and was rarely tasked with defensive responsibility. Something the Kings can replicate with Kopitar and Danault on the roster.

Which then begs the question, who to play with Dubois?

Most coaches like to work in pairs, and McLellan is no different. Things can change, but Kopitar and Adrian Kempe, Danault with Trevor Moore and Kevin Fiala with Vilardi were consistent forward pairs last season.

I’d expect the same to continue next season and McLellan will have to find a partner for Dubois.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense:

One option is to pair Dubois with Fiala. Fiala is the Kings’ most skilled forward and an electric offensive player. However, like Dubois, there are significant defensive issues in Fiala’s game. Those two together would have to be sheltered and start almost all of their shifts in the offensive zone.

Throw a sniper like Arthur Kaliyev opposite of Fiala and the Kings have a dynamic, balanced line. At least offensively.

There would be a lot of risks involved with this strategy, but the payoff could be huge. If the Kings play Fiala and Dubois together, expect high-event, high-scoring hockey when they’re on the ice.

A More Balanced Approach:

McLellan could also opt for a more balanced approach, pairing Dubois with a more responsible player like Viktor Arvidsson.

Arvidsson isn’t a Selke winner by any means, but he’s a nice middle ground between an all-offense player like Fiala and an all-defense player like Iafallo.

This would also give Dubois some speed and a high-volume shooter on his wing, two things that complement his game well.

The Kings could then let a group of Kaliyev, Carl Grundstrom, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Samuel Fagemo fight for a spot on that line.


Personally, I’d play the matchups and go with Fiala-Dubois. Use the Danault line as more of a pure shutdown line and keep Quinton Byfield on the top line.

My first instinct would be Kaliyev on the other wing, but let the above group fight for that spot.

That line gives you a play-driver and playmaker in Fiala, a physical dual-threat in Dubois and a pure shooter in Kaliyev. Offensively, there’s a lot to work with.

Defensively, there are some issues, but if they’re playing against favorable matchups and getting offensive-zone starts it shouldn’t matter. You can’t be scored on if you’re always in the offensive zone, and against sheltered matchups, they should always be in the offensive zone.

Opening Up Opportunities:

The opportunities now available to forwards like Kaliyev and Fagemo is a big part of this trade. McLellan made it very clear that the organization still views Kaliyev as a future top-six forward and I think this move shows some of that belief.

The Kings wouldn’t part way with one of their most trusted forwards in Iafallo if they weren’t confident in replacing him internally.

Kaliyev should be that replacement.

Not in playstyle or role, but in ice time and opportunity. And if Kaliyev can’t take that spot, Fagemo, Grundstrom or Anderson-Dolan have to be prepared to take it.

From that perspective, I understand why the Kings “overpaid” a little for Dubois. In a vacuum, giving up Vilardi, Iafallo, Kupari and a second-round pick is too much.

But, if you look at Iafallo and Kupari and think, “We have replacements for those players in house, they’re expendable.” I can see why Blake paid the price he did.

Now it’s up to Kaliyev and the others to prove him right.

Cap Complications:

There has to be another move coming for the Kings. They now have $4.5 million in cap space with 11 forwards, four defensemen and one goalie signed to the NHL roster.

Even if all of those players are signed at league minimum, the Kings can’t fill out their roster right now and definitely can’t get a quality starting goalie.

I’m sure Blake has a plan in place, but there’s a lot of work to be done. They need to clear out significant cap space and have limited assets to move now.

If someone like Arvidsson becomes a cap casualty because of this trade, the trade looks worse.

Blake has to get creative to solve the Kings’ problems.

Kings Get a Good Player:

Regardless of whether or not he’s worth the assets given up or the contract, the Kings got a good player in Dubois.

He’s scored 25-plus goals and 60-plus points in three seasons and plays with a physical edge the Kings are missing. And as a secondary benefit, they opened up spots for young players to prove themselves.

I also have to respect Blake’s aggressiveness here. In a very Dean Lombardiesque move, Blake saw a player he liked and said, “Damned the price that’s my guy and I’m going to get him.”

It’s a gamble and we don’t know how it will turn out. But after years of criticism for being too passive, Blake has flipped the narrative.











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