The Los Angeles Kings traded for Pierre-Luc Dubois last summer with the hope he would emerge as a key centerpiece for them moving forward. However, things did not play out as envisioned. Dubois struggled with the Kings in 2023-24 to the point where he was almost traded midseason. Now, following the 2023-24 campaign, he is on the move again. Los Angeles traded Dubois to the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals acquired Dubois from the Kings on Wednesday afternoon. In exchange, Los Angeles acquired goaltender Darcy Kuemper from Washington. Despite the large salaries involved in this trade, there is no salary retention involved. A lot has been said about this move since the news became official. And with that in mind, here are our trade grades for the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade between the Kings and Capitals.

Kings trade Pierre-Luc Dubois

Los Angeles wanted to make things work with Dubois. After all, teams don't trade three players and a draft pick if they don't believe the player they are acquiring is a good fit for them. In the end, they had a decision to make. Either keep Dubois and risk being locked into no-move and no-trade protections until 2030-31, or simply cut their losses.

Los Angeles decided it was best to cut their losses. Dubois was one of seven players on the team with negative goals above replacement in 2023-24, according to Evolving Hockey. He also recorded a negative wins above replacement this past season. There is some hope he can bounce back, but that hope isn't enough to keep him around.

In return, the Kings take a much more manageable flier on Kuemper. The now-former Capitals goalie struggled in 2023-24. He finished last among Washington puck-stoppers with -7.2 goals above replacement and -1.2 wins above replacement. Additionally, he finished this past yea with -1.73 goals saved above expected.

Kuemper is certainly not an inspiring return for Dubois, but the return for the struggling center was never going to be great. Los Angeles simply needed to move on from Dubois and get out of that contract. They do so with this trade, and the Kings hope Kuemper can rebound similar to what Cam Talbot and David Rittich did for them in 2023-24.

Los Angeles Kings center Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) moves the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period at Honda Center.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Capitals acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois

The Capitals desperately need to add offense this summer. Washington had one of the least efficient offenses in this league this past season. They made the playoffs with the lowest goal differential by any qualifying team since 1991. Adding Dubois to the mix, in theory, should help them. However, this is a massive gamble by the Washington front office.

Dubois struggled in Los Angeles, putting up just 40 points in 82 games. He even found himself on the fourth line toward the end of the season. However, there is some hope that he could bounce back. The Quebec native finished the season with zero offensive goals above replacement. That said, his expected offensive goals above replacement mark was three.

Additionally, he finished with 1.4 overall expected goals above replacement and 0.2 expected wins above replacement. This means, to some extent, Dubois could have played better than he did. So it's understandable why the Capitals wanted to take this chance.

That said, the issue stems from the salary. Washington is absorbing the entire $8.5 million cap hit in this deal. As a result, they now have just $3 million in salary cap space for the rest of the summer. Furthermore, Dubois and Tom Wilson carry a combined cap hit of $15 million in each of the next seven seasons.

Washington may not have major internal business to take care of this season. That said, they do need to make upgrades to this roster if they want to compete for the Stanley Cup Playoffs again. Expecting Dubois to be the sole missing piece is shortsighted. And it's a costly expectation to have given the circumstances.

Dubois should play further up the lineup in the nation's capital. But he will need to have a complete resurgence for this deal to make complete sense for the Capitals. And there is no concrete reason to believe that Dubois can reach his former 60-point form anytime soon.

Grades and final thoughts

The Kings receive an average grade for their part in this trade. Meanwhile, the Capitals receive a poor grade. Los Angeles needed to get out of the Dubois contract, and while Kuemper isn't an ideal fit, it's a fit they can manage. But Washington has a good chunk of their salary cap tied up between two forwards who aren't exactly offensive forces at this stage. It's an expensive bet on the potential of a player who, though has some promising underlying numbers, doesn't exactly look like someone is bound to become an elite offensive scorer within the next few seasons.

Los Angeles Kings grade: C

Washington Capitals grade: D+