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Blue Jackets Still Contemplating Patrik Laine Trade

The Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t made a decision about pending RFA Patrik Laine, and that includes potentially trading the forward.

According to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, the Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t decided what to do with the contracts of a few of their pending free agents, including Patrik Laine, who is having a bounce-back season. A former regular 30-40 goal player, Laine wasn’t himself last season and joined the Blue Jackets after a trade from the Winnipeg Jets. There was talk his stay with the Blue Jackets might not be a long one, but with former coach John Tortorella now out of the picture, the version of Laine fans got to know over the previous few seasons seemed to return.

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As Portzline notes, this poses interesting questions for the Blue Jackets.

The Columbus journalist writes, “There’s always long-term planning, but I don’t think they’ve mapped out what they’re going to do before March 21.” He adds that the Blue Jackets have too many forwards and there are big decisions ahead for this franchise, one that is partly looking past the right now and wants to build a younger team that can compete down the road.

Patrik Laine Blue Jackets 2
Patrik Laine Blue Jackets 2

Suggesting players like Max Domi and Grégory Hofmann are in contract years he also notes that Joonas Korpisalo is a pending UFA and said he’d be surprised if the goaltender finished the season in Columbus. When it comes to Laine, Portzline writes that Laine has looked more engaged and if he scores a lot of goals this season, GM Jarmo Kekalainen will have to make a call. He explains:

If this is a 40-, 50-goal scorer who likes Columbus and fits well within their system, they’d be foolish to trade him away. But if there are more seasons like 2020-21 in the future, you can’t have that. It’s a tough call. There’s a reason Jarmo and the hockey ops members are paid handsomely. I don’t have any knowledge of them even having preliminary talks toward a long-term deal. It’s still very early in the season. But you can start to see a pathway of how it could work that he stays here long-term. Stay tuned.

What About a Trade?

If Laine, who is currently injured, but has three goals and 10 points in nine games is on the trade market, there will be teams interested, especially if the Blue Jackets are willing to retain salary and he has a good year. An RFA, he would be under team control, and if a club figured he was back to his normal self and he’d be an attractive addition in a top-six role on a team that badly needs a scoring forward.

But, as Portzline points out, if Laine really is back to his normal self, why would the Blue Jackets want to trade him? He’d be a useful piece and one of the team’s biggest threats on offense moving forward.

Next: Eric Staal Still Looking to Sign With NHL Club 2021-22



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