Blue Jackets’ 3 Potential Trade Destinations for Patrik Laine

The Hockey Writers

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported on June 12 that the Columbus Blue Jackets’ top-six sniper Patrik Laine was looking for a new team’s jersey to wear and that they would try to accommodate that request. In an edition of their Insider Trading segment, LeBrun said specifically that a trade was “the goal from everyone involved.” He said, “[Laine] would like to move on. His agent has had conversations with the Blue Jackets about it and both sides are going to work together to try and get that done. He wants a fresh start.”

Laine had been a solid piece for the Blue Jackets through the Brad Larsen era with his output just a shade under a point-per-game. When he was hot, he was by far the team’s best player. However, when he was not, he often looked invisible. Under Pascal Vincent in 2023-24, he was slotted in as a center for the first time in his career looking like a fish out of water. Then injuries hit before he could get comfortable in the pivot position and he wound up missing 64 of 82 games.

Patrik Laine Columbus Blue Jackets
Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

To be clear, any trade for Laine would likely involve salary retention for the Blue Jackets. His $8.7 million cap hit over the next two seasons is likely going to be a tough sell for a contender. He has also only played in 52.4% of possible games over the past three seasons for a multitude of reasons including injury and entering into the NHL’s Player Assistance Program. He’s not exactly the highly coveted asset he was when the Blue Jackets acquired him from the Winnipeg Jets in 2021.

Regardless, at 26 years old, he’s still capable of a massive bounce back and has the skill to be a contributor on a contender, to any team looking for scoring, or of value in a mentorship role with a younger team. Let’s have a look at some teams that could be interested in taking a swing at Laine.

Carolina Hurricanes

This one seems too good to be true. Blue Jackets general manager Don Waddell – hired out of Carolina – makes blockbuster trade back to his old squad. The pieces are there to make this one interesting too. The Hurricanes’ Martin Necas is another player who’s said to be looking for a change of scenery. It definitely wouldn’t be a one-for-one trade, but if the Blue Jackets retained some salary on Laine and added an asset of some kind – maybe a defender or NHL-ready prospect – they could probably make something happen.

Related: Blue Jackets’ Don Waddell’s Best Moves as a GM

Laine is a fit for Carolina in so many ways. He has a history of kicking butt with Sebastian Aho. The two were part of one of the best lines in World Junior history along with Jesse Puljujarvi. The trio scored a combined 17 goals and were the top three players in tournament scoring during Finland’s gold medal run in 2016. The Hurricanes need a lethal scorer and Laine can bring that from anywhere in the offensive zone. He plays left and right wing which makes him versatile enough to slot in anywhere in the top-six. If he can stay healthy, he could be a heck of an asset. The key would be that in Carolina he wouldn’t need to be their best player and could comfortably fit in as the second or third-best option among Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.

NHL Utah

There’s not much fresher of a start to be had than with the freshest NHL franchise. With new ownership that’s looking to make a statement and lots of cap space ready to be spent, this could be a shot at a team that might take Laine without retaining salary. Utah has 10 second-round and seven third-round draft picks over the next three seasons which could interest the Blue Jackets. They’ve also got a loaded prospect pool. As for specific players that might catch Waddell’s eye, netminder Karel Vejmelka, who lost the number one goalie job in Arizona, would be a solid option to add to a package should the Blue Jackets decide to move on from Elvis Merzlikins this summer.

Utah has so many up-and-coming forwards like Logan Cooley, Dylan Guenther, Josh Doan, Conor Geekie, and more that could use an experienced veteran like Laine to help show them the ropes. He only has two years left on his deal which means that Utah wouldn’t be in too poor of a position when looking to re-sign those future core pieces to their long-term contracts in a few seasons.

Detroit Red Wings

Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings have some precedent taking on oft-injured players with high ceilings. Exhibit A: Robby Fabbri. Now this is a different case to be sure, Laine has a large cap hit and thus would be a high risk. However, he’s also proven to have a higher ceiling when he’s on his game and thus would be a higher reward. There would definitely need to be significant salary retention in a trade for this to work, but it isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility…though very unlikely.

If the Red Wings are able to keep a handle on Patrick Kane, it seems like an impossibility to me that they wouldn’t make the playoffs with Kane, Laine, Lucas Raymond and Alex DeBrincat as their top-six wingers, especially with Dylan Larkin and J.T. Compher down the middle. In return, the Blue Jackets could try and target a goalie in Ville Husso, a bigger-bodied middle-six forward like Michael Rasmussen, a prospect, or some draft capital.

This one isn’t super likely from Detroit’s side because while they’ve got $29 million in cap space, they’ve got contracts to sign for top talent like Raymond, Kane, and Moritz Seider, and depth guys like Shayne Gostisbehere, David Perron, and Daniel Sprong. If a lot of those guys end up leaving, there is a much stronger chance this comes to fruition.

Laine Could Fit With Many Teams

Honestly, there’s a case to be made for so many teams taking a swing at Laine. I could see the San Jose Sharks or the Chicago Blackhawks wanting to support their up-and-comers with an established scoring talent. While Laine isn’t a defensive force, his laser beam of a shot might draw the attention of Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders. Like the Red Wings, the Ottawa Senators have been on the cusp of the playoffs for too long, they might consider a move like this to try and put themselves over the top.

At this point for the Blue Jackets, just vacating the top-six roster spot that Laine holds might be of enough value that the return may be negligible. If the team can get some immediate goaltending help, a top prospect, or someone with championship pedigree coming back the other way, they can consider it a massive win.

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