As per Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts article on Tuesday, “I’m curious to see if Florida asks about Patrik Laine. He and Aleksander Barkov have a good relationship.” Friedman adds that the Panthers are expected to be aggressive in pursuit of improvement and if they’re looking to add impact players this offseason, Laine could be a fit.
Perhaps this is just Friedman thinking out loud. Admittedly, he doesn’t suggest he has any sort of inside track that the Panthers have expressed interest or kicked tires on the sniper. That said, there’s potentially a play the Panthers could make here as Laine’s future with the Columbus Blue Jackets seems anything but certain and the Panthers are doing whatever they can in an effort to ensure Barkov is happy and willing to sign an extension.
It was about five months ago we wrote about a report from TSN’s Darren Dreger who noted there was trade interest in Barkov and potentially teams have inquired. Speculation was that Barkov was potentially concerned with the fact the Panthers hadn’t really been a winning franchise. At the time, Dreger said that Barkov simply wanted to win and if the pieces were in place to ensure the team would be competitive, there’s was no reason that Barkov won’t listen on an extension or contemplate staying put.
The short of it was, Barkov wanted to win, as did the Panthers, but he might entertain offers or his options if it didn’t look like they could pull it all together.
The Panthers took a big step in the right direction this season as a team that looked like they could do some damage in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they ran into the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round which would have been a tough matchup for anyone. Perhaps Laine is one of the pieces that helps a team like Florida get over that hurdle next season if a similar scenario presents itself. No doubt, a Laine and Barkov duo has the potential to be productive.
The Panthers Could Be a Good Fit for Laine
The Panthers have both the trade assets and the cap space to bring in a player like Laine this offseason. He could do a short-term bridge deal and if it pans out, sign a long-term extension. It feels like he simply wants to find a place where he can settle in and get comfortable with a team after a couple of rough tenures with the Winnipeg Jets and Blue Jackets.
Laine might also be looking for a situation where he’s not going to be scrutinized for every play and can potentially get a fresh start with the right line mates.
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