Let’s attempt to grade the blockbuster trade between the Winnipeg Jets and the Columbus Blue Jackets, shall we.
There was a huge, huge trade that went down today in the National Hockey League, the kind of massive deal that we are used to seeing take place in the NBA. But today it was hockey’s turn in the spotlight as the Columbus Blue Jackets sent disgruntled star Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 2022 Third-Round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for elite sniper Patrik Laine and forward Jack Roslovic.
It was a stunning deal and we have been unpacking it all day long here at Puck Prose, diving into every single angle possible. So, now we have done that, we are going to attempt to grade this deal but, before we do, let’s just get you caught up on some of the key details of this trade.
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So, the Blue Jackets sent a Third-Round pick in 2022 and Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, while Winnipeg retained 26 percent of Laine’s salary this year to make sure the deal was possible cap wise. Also, Columbus swiftly signed Roslovic, who was an unsigned RFA, to a two-year, $3,800,000 deal.
It truly was a stunning trade that essentially swapped one unhappy star for another, and this deal could shape the future of both the Winnipeg Jets and the Columbus Blue Jackets for years to come given the potential and the upside of both Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Who got the better end of the bargain though? Is it too early to try and predict? Let’s try?
Grading the blockbuster trade between the Winnipeg Jets and the Columbus Blue Jackets
How we are going to do this is by giving this deal two separate grades, one for the Winnipeg Jets and one for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and we’ll start by assessing this deal through the perspective of the Jets. Let’s go!
It seemed clear for quite some time that this marriage between the Winnipeg Jets and Patrik Laine was heading for divorce with the elite sniper a RFA at the end of the 2020-21 season, and so it proved today with Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff paying a steep price in order to rid himself of a rather large headache.
There is no doubt that Laine is one of the best pure goalscorers in the National Hockey League and his departure takes away a boatload of offense away from Winnipeg. After all, Laine had recorded at least 50 points in each of his first four seasons in the league, while he also scored at least 30 goals in three of those four years.
Jack Roslovic wasn’t as potent for the Jets but he was a nice bottom-six piece and, still only 23-years-old, he could develop into a top-six center for the Columbus Blue Jackets so Winnipeg has potentially shed its roster of two potent forwards.
However, they are gaining a player in Pierre-Luc Dubois who boasts both skill and size as a center in the NHL, a rare mix and we all know that successful teams build down the middle and that’s exactly what the Winnipeg Jets are doing right now.
After all, once Dubois has quarantined for 14 days, he will slot in on the second-line and provide a lethal one-two punch behind Mark Scheifele down the middle, with veteran center Paul Stastny potentially an option to pivot the third-line while the Jets also have the likes of Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp. That is a lot of center depth.
Dubois is almost the complete package and, at 22-years-old, he still has plenty of room to develop and grow and he’s still a few years away from reaching his peak and his prime, so the Jets are getting a player with huge upside. That upside was tantalizingly teased inside the Bubble last year when the center put the Blue Jackets on his back with 10 points (4 G, 6 A) in 10 games.
Granted, there will be some who will be concerned by Dubois’ start to this season with the forward looking disinterested to start the 2020-21 season, putting up just one point (1 G, 0 A) in five games with a -2 rating. However, you can put that down to the situation in Columbus just reaching boiling point, rather than a reflection on the player and his ability himself.
Overall, the Winnipeg Jets had to give up a lot including one of the best goalscorers in the entire NHL, but they were unlikely to ever retain Patrik Laine and they now get an elite two-way center with a lot of upside in Pierre-Luc Dubois who is under control through the 2021-22 season with a $5 million cap hit and, with his dad the Assistant Coach of the Manitoba Moose, it is feasible to think that he would be interested in eventually signing a longer-term deal with the Winnipeg Jets.
Plus, the Jets do get a Third-Round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and, while it isn’t a First or Second-Round selection, it does still have some value and if you want to be successful in the NHL, then you can never have enough draft capital.
Now for the Columbus Blue Jackets portion of this trade. This deal needed to be made given that it seemed that the relationship between Pierre-Luc Dubois and the franchise reached the point of no return. It certainly seemed that Head Coach John Tortorella had enough after benching Dubois for the majority of his team’s Overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday with the center getting just 3:55 of ice time.
Yes, in order to be successful in the NHL you need to build up the middle and the Blue Jackets have now given up a high-end pivot with huge upside, but that relationship could not be saved and, in return, they have gained one of the best goalscorers in the entire NHL along with a young forward who has the potential to develop into a top-six forward.
We’ll start with Patrik Laine because he is the headline of this trade and rightly so. Since being drafted No. 2 overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Laine has morphed into a goalscoring machine and he also showed signs this season that he had polished his all-round game before going on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury.
He has recorded at least 50 points in each of his first four seasons in the league while he has also scored at least 30 goals in three of those four years, scoring 28 in what was a shortened regular-season in 2019-20 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Laine has once scored five goals in one game and he’s also lit the lamp 18 times in one month, so the goalscoring potential and ability is there for all to see.
Boasting one of the most lethal shots in the National Hockey League, Laine can score goals from anywhere on the ice and his wicked release makes him a deadly weapon on the power play, where he has 52 points in his career so far.
The Blue Jackets, who ranked 28th in Goals For Per Game last year (2.57), desperately needed an offensive spark and a scoring punch and they will get an abundance of that in Laine, who will no doubt take on a top-line role while manning the first power play unit for Columbus.
Standing at 6-foot-5 and 206 pounds, the 22-year-old has the physique and the build to be a real power forward in the NHL and if he commits to playing hard in his own zone, battling hard in the dirty areas and basically doing the dirty side of the game, then he will fit into Head Coach John Tortorella’s system.
The only downside to this deal is the fact that Laine has previously expressed a desire to play in a bigger market, so that could raise some doubt over whether or not he will be interested in signing a longer-term deal in Columbus once he becomes an RFA at the end of this season. Also due a significant pay rise on his current $6,750,000 AAV, the Blue Jackets will have the means and will be willing to pay Patrik Laine the big bucks, but whether he will be willing to sign is a different matter entirely.
But, if the Columbus Blue Jackets can sign Laine to a long-term deal, then they’ve won this trade hands down. The Finnish forward is an elite game-changer, something the Jackets haven’t had since Artemi Panarin, and Laine will propel this team to another level or two without a doubt.
Then there is Jack Roslovic. Refusing to sign a new contract with Winnipeg because he wanted a bigger role, the forward has now signed a new two-year, $3,800,000 deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets and he’s an interesting project.
Having carved out career-highs in goals (12), assists (17) and points (29) for the Jets in 2019-20, Roslovic will be hoping to cement himself as a top-six forward for the Blue Jackets and he could make that second-line center role is his own. If he continues to develop as a two-way forward who can add a scoring punch while making big plays in his own zone, then it just makes this deal look even better for Columbus.
Overall, if Patrik Laine can be the dynamic goalscoring machine we all know he is capable of being, coupled with adding a more well-rounded approach to his game, and also is happy to sign a long-term deal then this is a huge win for the Columbus Blue Jackets, especially if Jack Roslovic can develop into a second-line center too.
That’s why we’ve given this a high grade but, if Laine either struggles or decides he doesn’t see a long-term future in Columbus, then the Blue Jackets would have given up a potential elite player at one of the most important positions in the game for almost nothing, so we are going to have to wait at least a year until we can really present an accurate judgement on what was a true blockbuster trade in the NHL.