“I saw an opportunity with the LA Kings that to me was like a dream come true.”
The excitement of acquired forward Pierre-Luc Dubois was quite evident during his first media availability as a member of the LA Kings. Dubois took questions from the media for nearly 25 minutes in English, not to mention the French questions that followed. Dubois was courteous with his time and his eagerness to begin a new opportunity in Southern California was evident.
The biggest question for Dubois to answer was also the most simple – Why LA?
“My dream is to win a Stanley Cup and I look at the organization, I look at the players, the whole roster, the staff and everybody and it’s nice to see that opportunity,” Dubois said. “That’s something that really, really excited me from the start. When we saw that LA could be an option, that’s something that really got my interest.”
The Kings organization is starting to develop a reputation as a place where players want to be and want to play. That wasn’t always the case for LA, or other Pacific Division teams, but players in their prime are now choosing the Kings as a place to commit. Over the past two years, Phillip Danault, Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Gavrikov and now Pierre-Luc Dubois have committed their futures to the Kings, despite having opportunities to go elsewhere. That says a lot about what the Kings are building and Dubois himself said it’s a reputation the organization is starting to develop amongst players.
Certainly doesn’t hurt either that one of the players on that list was a former teammate. Gavrikov and Dubois played together previously in Columbus, before Dubois was traded to Winnipeg.
“He loves it in LA and that’s what he told me, so that helped a lot in making the decision and me being reassured of it,” Dubois said of Gavrikov. “He’s a great player on the ice, he does a bit of everything out there and his presence is felt not only on the ice but in the dressing room. He’s a great person to be around, a great guy……I’m excited to get to play with him again.”
There are a lot of positives about choosing Los Angeles. Looking beyond the area and the weather, Dubois expressed a lot of excitement about joining forces with Danault and Anze Kopitar to form what should be one of the NHL’s strongest center groups, and also one of the deepest when you factor in Blake Lizotte as well. That group should be one of the biggest strengths of the 2023-24 LA Kings roster, with players the Kings will feel confident in matching up against just about any opposing group in the league.
Dubois called the Kings a difficult team to play against when he was with Winnipeg and Columbus and he’s now excited to be on their side.
“The opportunity to play with two centers like [Kopitar and Danault] is something I’m really looking forward to,” Dubois said. “I’ve played six years in the NHL and I still have a lot to learn. Those are two guys that, you look at the way they play the game in every aspect, offensively, defensively, on faceoffs and for me and the position I’m in, it’s really an unbelievable opportunity for me to get to know them on and off the ice and get to work with them, see how they practice and their details.”
— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 27, 2023
Now, the overarching question of “Why LA” comes about because he was a player without a contract, though still sitting one year away from unrestricted free agency. With that in mind, a move needed the cooperation of his employer, the Winnipeg Jets. Had Dubois been under contract, it would have been a “different story” in his words, with how things played out. As a free agent though, one year away from unrestricted free agency, this was his opportunity to secure his long-term future.
“We wanted to be as clear as possible from the start with the Jets, with the whole organization, that this is the route we wanted to take,” he said. “From that moment on, we worked together to get to this point.”
Dubois spoke highly of his time in Winnipeg and was transparent throughout the process. He also exercised his rights as a player, earned by his time in the NHL, to finally have a say in where he commits to for the long haul. There can’t be hard feelings when that happens because it’s part of the business. Fortunately for the Kings, Los Angeles was where Dubois ultimately decided to be.
With commitment now comes evaluation. We know his size, we know his skill, we know his physicality, but those are just buzzwords and attributes. Allow Dubois to tell you, in his own words, the player he believes he is.
“I think I’m somebody that can do a bit of everything on the ice,” he said. “I’m a centerman who likes to help his defensemen on breakouts, on boards and likes to help on the rush and in the zone. I really try to play that 200-foot game, pass the puck, shoot the puck and I think to be the complete player I want to become, it takes time and I think I’m getting closer and closer to that. I’ve tried to bring that mix of everything on the ice, every night, and being a competitor, being competitive in front of our net, in front of their net, that’s really the type of player that I think I am and I’m trying to become more and more every game.”
That’s not to say Dubois is a finished product. He certainly doesn’t believe that he is and as he detailed, he believes that he has more in his game. Dubois’ production was outstanding over the first four months of the season, trending close to a point-per-game pace, before falling off a bit in February and March, which saw him miss some time with an upper-body injury.
Still, when you put it all together, it brought him to a still respectable 63-point pace. He spoke about continuing to strive for that consistency over the course of 82 games. He believes he got better in that area this past season in Winnipeg, but as someone who just turned 25, he knows he’s got to continue to evolve in that area as well.
Looking ahead, Dubois believes he can adapt to playing with just about anyone. After all, that’s the job of a center in his mind, to adapt to his linemates and enhance everyone’s game in the process. It’s clear the Kings see Dubois as a center, which means there are several options on the wing that could makes sense as potential linemates.
That will sort itself out, though. For now, Dubois is just excited to get going with a new group, in pursuit of his ultimate goal – winning a championship.
“I think this team has everything that you could need to win a cup and I think that was the number-one priority for me,” he added. “I’m really excited to get going to work and to start preseason and the season.”