The NHL off-season is coming, which means it’s time for the usual uptick in rumours and hearsay. These days, that inevitably involves Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine.
Rumours of Laine’s dissatisfaction with his role on the Jets have been rolling for some time now and it was this time last year that he signed a two-year deal.
That contract is a bridge deal, akin to Brayden Point’s with Tampa Bay but a year shy, and it came after a reported series of complicated negotiations. The onus was to be on the forward to illustrate he was going to be worth any proposed upgrade in the pay and/or tenure department, but now we’re staring down the barrel of another season.
The 21-year-old has 138 goals in 305 career games and probably should have more. He has a year to go on his contract and possesses arbitration rights.
Winnipeg hasn’t exactly had it easy, what with the Dustin Byfuglien situation proving a little on the challenging side.
For a player like Laine, revisiting his contract situation after a run-in like before may not be the most thrilling prospect. There’s a flat cap for 2020-2021 and money is going to be a factor as clubs reconfigure in our new COVID-19 reality.
Laine wants a bigger role with the Jets. That’s been clear for a long time now.
But Winnipeg has a pretty solid collection of scorers, with Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Mark Scheifele among those capable of putting the puck in the net regularly. The Jets do need a number two centre and a defenceman in lieu of Byfuglien’s absence, which means Laine could be the odd one out.
Free agency opens October 9 and there are some captivating names in the mix, but the Jets could throw something out there if they see an opportunity to meet their needs. And that could put Laine in the wind, with teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets among those said to be interested in his services.