Just as the recent Laine rumours started to slow down, things picked up again this evening as the TSN Insiders had some new information. It was Pierre LeBrun reporting details that he had received from both Laine’s agents and Jets GM, Kevin Cheveldayoff. If you haven’t had a chance, take a listen and continue on as we will discuss everything mentioned in this report.
INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…
🏒 Laine camp says trade would be mutually beneficial
🏒 Possibility of 🇨🇦 division next season
🏒 Chara’s camp ‘looking at all options’
🏒 Update on OHL start date; contact & checking
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) October 15, 2020
The first point of the report was the very clear denial of the rumours that Laine might not report to training camp with the Winnipeg Jets. That’s good news for Winnipeg because the worst-case scenario for the club would be having Patrik Laine sit out. Not only does sitting out hurt his potential trade stock, but the Jets desperately need Laine scoring goals to help the club on the ice.
The other important nugget of information that LeBrun snuck in was that Laine hasn’t asked for a trade. This is also good news for Jets fans. Again, once teams realize the player is actively searching for a trade, his stock plummets and the team is left selling a player for much less than expected.
So far, so good. This first little discussion gives Jets fans everything they want to hear.
And here comes the curveball as LeBrun states:
“His agents have also made clear that … given that Laine knows his name has been in trade discussion and … his usage in the lineup in the last couple years has been a constant topic of conversation, the fact that he doesn’t get consistent first line minutes, his agents … do confirm that it probably would be mutually beneficial to both the player and to the team if Patrick Laine is traded.”
So let’s get this straight. Laine hasn’t asked for a trade, but he’s been involved in lots of trade discussion. This trade discussion has given Laine the idea that he isn’t wanted and has turned the situation to given Laine’s camp the idea that a trade would benefit both Laine and the Jets.
You might hear these things and think that it’s no big deal and that this will eventually be smoothed over. While that may be the case, there is also cause for concern. If Laine’s agents think a trade would be beneficial then there’s obviously some part of Laine that wants out. He’s not outright requesting to be dealt, but it seems to be pointing in the direction of Laine not signing a long-term deal with the Jets. The last part LeBrun stated was that there is a clear understanding between Laine’s agents and Cheveldayoff about where this is probably headed.
Briefly looking at the situation, things get a little murky. Laine’s under contract for one more season before becoming an RFA and will have arbitration rights next summer if a deal can’t be worked out before then. In addition, Laine won’t be an unrestricted free agent for another three seasons which means Winnipeg doesn’t have to do anything with Laine until the summer of 2023.
Even though the Jets control Laine for three more seasons, it would be smart to trade the player if they know he’s going to sign with a new club as soon as he’s a UFA. Jacob Trouba is a similar player in this regard because it was apparent that Trouba didn’t want to play in Winnipeg. The Jets controlled Trouba for another season before he was a UFA but because the Jets knew Trouba wasn’t going to re-sign with the team, it made more sense to trade him earlier and get a few pieces in return rather than letting him walk for nothing.
I’m not saying that Laine is going to end up like Trouba. If Laine gets top-line minutes for an entire season and puts up 45 goals, things might settle down. However, if an ageing Wheeler is still played ahead of Laine all season long the damage might be irreparable and Laine might force a trade.
Hopefully it doesn’t get to that point.