At the end of the 2021-22 season, the Winnipeg Jets will have 19 contracts expiring, 10 of which will be restricted free agents, with seven of them becoming arbitration-eligible.
Let’s have a look at the most notable skater amongst this group, Pierre-Luc Dubois, who’ll be searching for his next contract at season’s end. What might that look like? Perhaps we should explore that together.
In Dubois’ first five seasons in the NHL, he’s played 313 games and has scored 89 goals and 205 points. That rounds out to 0.65 points per game. But the 6’2″ forward brings so much more to the table, everything from delivering big hits, winning face-offs and blocking a fair number of shots.
You also can’t forget that he causes a ruckus in front of the net when the time calls for it, will get into most scrums and will stand up for his teammates as well. I think we can say the new generation of power forwards are here with Dubois taking the lead in that area.
This season, Dubois is on pace for 37 goals, which would surpass his previous career mark of 27 from 2018-19. Additionally, the 23-year-old is on pace for 65 points, if it holds, that’d be the most points he’s ever scored in a single season.
With that in mind, I think it would be wise for the Jets to go with a mid-range contract for the power forward. I’ve always been wary of handing lucrative contracts to players who’ve just enjoyed career years or put has put on a big show during previous playoff runs. That being said, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will pay his players what’s fair.
One player I think that we can compare Dubois to is former Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla. He was a power forward in his day, and Dubois takes care of his own players much like Iginla. I can see leadership qualities from both men and they both have scored tons of points.
Over his first five seasons in the NHL, Iginla registered 122 goals and 267 points over 388 games. Currently, Dubois is on pace for 244 career points by the end of the 2021-22 season. These two skaters are close in numbers and play roughly the same game.
Since the 2000-01 season, the salary system has changed significantly, guys receive their big paydays when they’re in their early to mid-20s. Iginla didn’t receive anything more than $1.7 million until 2002-03 or what would be after his sixth season. After that, he was paid $8 million in 2003-2004 and then made $7 million after the 2004-05 lockout. That ate up 17.95 per cent of Calgary’s salary cap.
As much as I would love to pay Dubois 17.95 per cent of the cap over the next few seasons, that’s just not going to happen. So we need to look at this realistically. If the Jets had the cap space, I think he could earn the biggest payday in franchise history, one that’d pay him $9 million over seven years or something.
That being said, I think with how the NHL salary system currently works, we could see a number close to $7.5 million, which would have Dubois making more than Mark Scheifele but it wouldn’t put the Jets in cap hell either. I wouldn’t have an issue with the former Columbus Blue Jacket only signing for five years. It’d give him some time to grow and when the salary cap starts to climb again, he could be poised to earn a much larger deal by then.
What do you think Dubois’ contract should be in the off-season? Does he deserve $7.5 million? Will he earn more than that? Or would you trade him for assets?