No Los Angeles King will be under a microscope quite like Pierre-Luc Dubois next season.
The team sent out significant assets to acquire the 25-year-old from the Winnipeg Jets and locked him down to a massive eight-year contract.
Coming off career-highs in points and points-per-game is a good sign, but he needs to break beyond the standard he set last season.
Pierre-Luc Dubois Points in 2023-24: 0.86.5 points-per-game:
Instead of setting a points benchmark for Dubois, I’m setting the line at his points-per-game total from last season.
Why? Because even if Dubois beats his 63 points from last season, it could be a disappointment depending on games played. If he scores 65 points in 82 games, he will have underachieved a bit.
But, if he can break beyond his 0.86, 70-point pace, from last season, the Kings are in business.
Given the acquisition cost and subsequent contract Dubois signed, being good won’t cut it for him, he needs to be great. He needs to be a 70-plus point player next season and bring the physical element he’s known for.
The good news for Dubois is that he should be set up well for a big season.
While things could change — remember when we all thought Kevin Fiala was the winger Anzer Kopitar was missing? I do expect Dubois and Fiala to get a long look together on the Kings’ second line.
That combination alone should lead to a big year from Dubois. I’ve covered Fiala’s elite playmaking before, and that impact can’t be understated. Dubois scored 27 goals last season playing with some good playmakers, but Fiala is a new level entirely.
Fiala posted a full high-danger pass per-60 more than anyone on Winnipeg and over two chance assists more per-60 last season. Dubois’ not just looking at a few more chances across the season. He’s looking at two or three more per game.
On the other wing, he’ll have plenty of help too. The immediate reaction to this trade had most people pegging Arthur Kaliyev on a line with Fiala and Dubois, but I’ve cooled on that idea considerably.
That line would be too weak defensively and I don’t see Todd McLellan throwing out an all-offense second line. Viktor Arvidsson might not be elite defensively, but he’s an improvement on Kaliyev and Fiala.
And even though Arvidsson came in with a reputation as a goal scorer, he’s proven to be an elite playmaker.
Dubois has two linemates who should complement his playstyle well and lead to plenty of 5v5 production.
Then there’s the power play. Dubois posted an impressive 23 power-play points last season on a solid, but not spectacular Winnipeg unit.
He’s now moving from the 23rd-ranked unit in the league to the 4th-ranked unit and should see a bump in points. I do have some concerns about how he’ll fit into the Kings’ top group, but good players often figure these things out.
My Prediction: I’m Taking the Over:
From the research I’ve done this summer on Dubois, I’ve come around on him as a player big time. He’s an extremely talented player in a great situation now.
With linemates that should accentuate his most prominent skills and one of the league’s best power plays, surpassing his 0.86 points-per-game from last season is very achievable.
As always, his success is going to hinge a lot on whether he and Fiala form chemistry, but I’m not too worried about it. Fiala and Dubois’ skills complement each other well and they should work together.
I’ll predict Dubois finishes next season with at least 30 goals and 75 points.