The time has passed for Patrik Laine to show up and prove the trade was useful. Once thought of to be the next big star in the game his mind seems to get in the way of his progression. If he does not show up for the Blue Jackets as we expected post-trade, this could be the most we ever get out of Laine.
It was about a little over a year ago the Patrik Laine trade happened between the Jets and Blue Jackets.
The Winnipeg Jets sent- Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic
The Columbus Blue Jackets sent- Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third round in the 2022 NHL Draft
Since that trade Laine has played in 74 games for the Blue Jackets. Netting 26 goals, 26 assists, and a +/- of -27. Seven of his 26 goals have come on the power play. After making the all-rookie team in the 2016-2017 season and the all-star game in the 2017-2018 season, Laine has been up for zero awards.
This year Laine has had five-game winning goals in the Blue Jackets 24 wins.
Right now Laine seems to be a top-6 player, with some games showing he could be a staple on the front line. In other games, he seems to be just kind of out there. Showing either a lack of speed, mental preparation, or positioning. It seems he has fallen a long way since his rookie year. Where in 73 games he had 36 goals, 28 assists, and a +/- of 7. In that one season, he had better stats than his entire time with the Blue Jackets.
We know he can skate. We know he can shoot. What we don’t know is if he has mentally checked out of the game.
He will be a restricted free agent after this year, and I can’t see him getting that top-dollar he once wanted. It might even be a stretch to say the Blue Jackets even try and re-sign him at this point. But, with him being restricted they should even if he walks get something back for him.
If he cant get back to being consistent for more than a few games at a time, he should be on his way out the door. Unless he can create a wild comeback the last few months of the season. There will still be no shortage of teams wanting his services, due to his age and what we know he can do. However, I would not expect any team to offer him a five-year+ deal, or anything over 10MM a season given to some of the better players in the game. Due to his form, issues, and how he has responded over the last two seasons.
We have long forgotten why he was moved in the first place, issues with the coaching staff, and some terrible play pushed this move. Something which has become sort of commonplace recently in the NHL players pushing themselves out with issues with coaches or front office.
It is hard to project where he will go from here, but there is still a lot of talent in his hands and skates. But, he may need to be on a team where he is not a top-5 scoring option, and allowed to re-learn and reset his mind. I could see a top-end team moving cap space around to put him on the second or third line in free agency hoping to get the best out of him and see if he can regain his form. I just don’t assume it will be with the Blue Jackets, who are currently fifth in the division and 16 points away from the fourth-place team.
I would not expect to see him traded as he has little time remaining on his contract, and the Blue Jackets would not get back a ton for him, but they might think that’s a better option than hoping he turns it on before the end of the season.
What should we expect from Patrik Laine and the Blue Jackets?
If he can’t get to the top-end form, I expect his name to be floated at the deadline. If no trade is found he will most likely have a new home for the 2022-2023 season. While he does not seem to have the same locker room issues he did with the Jets, for a team in a rough division, committing long-term to him could be more harmful than helpful. There could also be an option for the LA Kings to take a look with a good young team already in the hunt and trying to stay there.