The Los Angeles Kings have beenn successful thus far in the 2023-24 NHL season. The usual offensive suspects are contributing, the defense has been solid, and goaltender Cam Talbot has grabbed the number one spot between the pipes. The Kings are right in the middle of a playoff chase as we go into the second half of the season. There seems to be one thing not coming together. That would be center Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Kings, Dubois Looking for Answers
Center Pierre-Luc Dubois was looked at as the missing piece of the Stanley Cup puzzle. A big center who is productive offensively and can play a wing position if needed. He was acquired by the Kings and General Manager Rob Blake on June 27, 2023, from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for forwards Alex Iafallo, Gabe Villardi, and Rasmus Kupari, and a 2nd round pick in 2024. While the rest of the Los Angeles roster has played well, Dubois seems to be having a tough time meeting expectations in a new city.
Dubois has seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 33 games. Not bad for a bottom-six forward, which is what he is on this roster. However, he was brought in to be another offensive weapon that the team could lean on and push the Kings over the hump. After all, the Kings gave up a lot of talented forwards for his services. His 14 points are eighth on the team and his seven goals are sixth. So what has been the issue with Dubois?
Is he injured? Could Dubois be hiding an injury to be out there and help his teammates in the tight Pacific Division. An injury that could be played on but does further damage in the future. Maybe a shoulder injury that is causing him not to shoot as hard or not have that snap on his passes? Or maybe a groin injury that is slowing him down and not keeping up with his quicker linemates?
Could it be that he is used to playing with more skilled linemates on the first two lines? As said previously, he is now on the third-line center behind captain Anze Kopitar and Philip Danault. Dubois and his linemates, Arthur Kaliyev and Alex Laferriere have combined for 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points. This line, if it sticks together, is far too talented to have only 36 points between them.
Could Head Coach Todd McLellan could insert Dubois into the top-six and see what comes out of it? However, if coach McLellan moves him to the first or second line, who goes to the third line? Everyone in the top-six is outperforming Dubois offensively so moving any one of those players down in the lineup would not make sense.
Was the trade and contract signing a mistake or is Dubois taking longer to adapt to the Los Angeles lifestyle and Kings systems? Maybe he is in line for a massive second half where he is the best player on the team from here on out. Dubois still has time and credible teammates to figure this out. When he signed that 8-year, $68 million deal, that also came with massive expectations.
In his last five games, he has two goals. He has not looked out of place as far as his skating, pace of play, and ability to create offense. However, the pucks are not going in for him and his linemates. He has a career 0.70 points-per-game average so he is able to contribute on the scoresheet.
Dubois averages 54 points per season and he is now at 14 points with the halfway point of the 2023-24 season right around the corner. He will have his lowest offensive output if he continues to struggle in the offensive zone. This trade is not a mistake yet, as he is in year one of that deal. If he continues to play this way in year two or three , this may be looked at as a failed experiment by Blake.
(photo: lakingsinsider.com; Zach Dooley) (photo: lakingsinsider.com; Zach Dooley)
The post Kings’ Dubois Struggling in First Year in Los Angeles appeared first on Los Angeles Sports Nation.