So far this off-season, forward Patrik Laine has been floating around in trade rumors and he’s been linked to several different organizations over the last few months, but would it actually make sense for the Winnipeg Jets to trade him to one of their division rivals?
Probably not, but let’s explore that possibility anyway.
While there hasn’t been much action around the league over the last month, which has likely been caused by the lack of a start date for next season, that doesn’t mean things couldn’t intensify in the near future. Particularly on the trading front, it seems the Jets might have some interest in completing a blockbuster trade before training camp opens, whenever that actually happens.
Though things have calmed down since the organization acquired center Paul Stastny from the Vegas Golden Knights back in October, there’s still no guarantee Laine will remain on this team through the rest of the off-season and it’s certainly possible his market could pick back up once the league announces a starting date for the 2020-21 campaign. Adding to this, it also appears there’s a chance the 22-year old could be sent to a team like the Chicago Blackhawks, which could bring veteran Jonathan Toews to Winnipeg, according to NHLTradeRumors.com.
In the report, it suggests general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his staff reportedly contacted the Blackhawks earlier this winter regarding a potential deal involving both Toews and Laine. Even though other pieces would need to be included to complete this trade, it’s one the team was apparently interested in making at the time and could revisit in the near future.
Just looking at some of his recent results, there’s no question that adding a skater who produced career-highs in goals (35) and points (81) in 2018-19 would help improve the Jets offensively moving forward. Despite the attractiveness of acquiring a three-time Stanley Cup champion, there are multiple reasons why this type of deal just wouldn’t be able to work, which is probably why Cheveldayoff hasn’t pulled the trigger on it yet.
Starting with his contract, Toews’ current deal runs through the 2022-23 campaign and will pay him $10.5 million per season – that’s certainly a high price tag for someone who’s entering his age-32 season. Since Laine only features a $6.75 million cap hit next season, the team would probably need to shed another expensive salary in this deal or they likely wouldn’t have enough cap space to complete the backend of their blue line.
With limited options available, Winnipeg would likely need to include forward Mathieu Perreault, as he’s slated to earn $4.125 million in 2021 and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next off-season. In total, the Jets would be sending $10.875 million to the Blackhawks and absorbing $10.5 million in each of the next three seasons.
Along with his extremely expensive salary, there isn’t exactly a fit for Toews on the Jets anymore, as they don’t need another center following the addition of Stastny. Considering the 6-foot-2 center has produced a faceoff percentage of at least 56% in each of the last three seasons, his talents would be wasted if moved to the wing, which further adds to the unlikeliness of this trade happening.
Based on these factors, there’s a very good chance Laine won’t be heading to Chicago anytime soon, but it might be in the best interest of both sides if he doesn’t remain in Winnipeg long term. With that in mind, dealing the Finnish native to the “Windy City” would make a little bit more sense if someone like forward Patrick Kane was involved and didn’t come with a $10.5 million cap hit over the next three seasons.
But taking into account the Jets’ desire to acquire a top-four blueliner before next season opens, they likely won’t be parting ways with the former first-round selection unless they receive a player of that caliber in return. Since there are only a few teams currently looking to move an elite defenseman, accomplishing that feat could prove to be extremely difficult for the front office.
Without an obvious suitor for Laine as of now, it appears there’s a very strong chance he’ll be with the Jets when the 2020-21 campaign eventually opens and will be looking to pick up exactly where he left off before a hand injury forced him to miss the remainder of his team’s playoff run during the summer.