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Trade Debate: Would You Swap Patrik Laine for Matthew Tkachuk?

It’s an interesting discussion and certain to see fans land on either side of the fence, but the question was asked by Sean Reynolds and Ryan Leslie of Sportsnet as to who was better, Patrik Laine or Matthew Tkachuk? Reynolds argued there was no real debate and that Laine takes the prize hands down, while Leslie talked about other intangibles that make Tkachuk a more useful player.

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Reynold’s says, “Matthew Tkachuk is a great hockey player, I’m a big fan of his, but you don’t need to force him into a conversation to create relevance for him.” Reynold’s went on to argue that only two players in their teens have done what Laine has done in his teens in the NHL. Those two players were Dale Hawerchuk and Jimmy Carson. Reynolds adds that Laine is “already historically significant in the short amount of time he’s been in this league.”

Leslie argued that relevant is the name of the game for Tkachuk. Calling him a man already and a player beyond his years, Leslie said the two players are actually fairly similar. He admits that Laine is more of a sniper but says, “I want to talk about difference-markers. I want to talk about entertainers. I want to talk about the guys who live rent free in opponents heads and certainly fans around the NHL.”

Leslie suggested that if the Jets could go back to that 2016 NHL Entry Draft, they’d probably take Tkachuk at the No. 2 overall spot versus Laine, especially considering all the talk that the Jets might be moving on from Laine at some point in the not too distant future. In fact, Leslie argued that everyone would take Tkachuk at No. 2 now that we know what we know.

That Poses an Interesting Trade Question

Taking this debate and going one step further with it, what if a Laine for Tkachuk trade was on the table? What if Winnipeg did, in fact, want to move Laine and not commit long-term and the Calgary Flames were asked to do the deal one-for-one? Should the two make a deal and would both sides win?

There are a few things to consider when trying to answer that question.

First, you have to consider the respective contract situations. Tkachuk is a $7 million player who has two seasons left on his current deal before he becomes an RFA. Laine is $6.75 million player with one season left and he too, will be an RFA when that deal ends. Salary wise, both players are expected to ask for raises and both may likely get them, although it’s not clear how much of a bump each would receive.

Second, you have to consider the positions. Both are top-six wingers (sometimes top-line wingers) in the NHL. Both typically get second-line duty on the right side but both could play with the best players in the league and are often the best player on the team on any given night.

Third, you have to factor in what the team needs and already has. The Jets are loaded up front with skill and talent. Laine is among a group of players who can put the puck in the net or produce points. Meanwhile, Tkachuk is a legitimate threat to score, but he also adds an element of grit that Laine lacks.

Calgary is looking for more scoring and it’s not clear where things stand with players like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. If either is moved, the Flames could use more offensive punch, but the question would be, do you really want to move a player like Tkachuk to acquire that scoring? Tkachuks has proven to be close to a point-per-game player the past two seasons. So too, for every question about Gaudreau’s ability to produce in the playoffs, Laine certainly has shown he can, but there are also commitment questions.

It’s a tough call. Would you do the deal? Why or why not?

Next: Scribe Calls Ryan Strome Trade from Rangers a Near Certainty

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  1. Pingback: (12/13/2020) - BLH's NHL Rumor Roundup PM Edition: "They Could Use A Low-Priced Veteran or Two" - Beer League Heroes

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