With Canada missing most of its stars due to the Stanley Cup playoffs, the team needed to find some scoring from other avenues at the World Hockey Championship.
Enter Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Through four games, Dubois leads Canada with four goals and six points. Canada has a perfect 4-0-0-0 record to tie Switzerland in Group A, considered to be the weaker of the two groups. Even so he's still standing out above his peers, and it's noticeable.
This is Dubois' third World Championship tournament, and he's been a top Canadian every time. But this year, after a huge season in Winnipeg, he's on pace to set a career-high in points in this event. The two-way forward has been dangerous the net, and while his one assist might not reflect it in a meaningful fashion, Dubois has done a good job finding his teammates around the net.
Dubois' inclusion with Canada was slightly surprising. It's not uncommon for quality NHLers to skip the tournament in UFA seasons, and Dubois is up for a new pact. There are a lot of questions about what's going to happen in Winnipeg, including whether or not the team elects to bring Dubois back.
Dubois' early struggles in Winnipeg were well documented. After signing a two-year contract, Dubois was traded to Winnipeg after just five games with Columbus in 2021, recording a single goal. He missed two weeks due to COVID-19 protocols and once he returned, it was clear he had some catching up to do. Dubois had seven points in his first 13 games with Columbus and had many multi-game scoreless droughts while trying to get accumulated to his new teammates.
This year, though, was a different story. Dubois had 60 points in 81 games, one point shy of his career-high of 61 in 2018-19. He also played for Canada at the World Championship that season, recording seven points in eight games en route to a silver.
For obvious reasons, the Jets won't want to let him go. They paid a big price for him, trading multi-time 30-goal scorer Patrik Laine to acquire him, and Dubois seemed to have a found a good home with Winnipeg's core.
So while Dubois is living it up in Finland in the first proper World Championship without major restrictions since 2019, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff needs to figure out what's next for their star forward. The Jets need stability in its forward core, especially with rumors surrounding the futures of Mark Scheifele and Blake WHeeler.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported that Dubois might not be willing to a sign a long-term deal. Could that be because of the uncertainty surrounding some of the team's notable forwards? Maybe. Winnipeg has lost its fair share of quality talent in recent years after building a true contender. The Jets can still make some noise in the playoffs with some tinkering – they've got a good base and a top goaltender to play with.
Whether it be a one-year arbitration, a multi-year to get him into UFA status or a long-term deal to show commitment, Dubois' future is truly up in the air. Right now, though, he's focused on winning gold for the first time in his international career. It's always nice to see someone like Dubois show up in events like this when the time permits because, while it might not be a Stanley Cup run, it's still something important for the players involved.
And with Dubois playing the way he is, Canada could be looking at a second consecutive gold medal.