With a top line center, Columbus Blue Jackets LW, Patrik Laine should rebound in a big way

It was an uncharacteristically underachieving season for Columbus Blue Jackets Left Wing (LW) Patrik Laine. Laine who’s production has never been an issue until he was traded to the Blue Jackets found himself in a rut that he simply could not get out of. Be it the trade, the pandemic, new teammates or whatever was the root cause, Laine himself said he has to be better and vowed to be better next season.

COLUMBUS, OH – FEBRUARY 7: Patrick Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets controls the puck during the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena on February 7, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Sure the Columbus Blue Jackets were rumored to be trading Patrik Laine. I do not believe that is the case now. I say that because Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, and new head coach Brad Larsen have both said recently they want to put better talent around him. That does not sound like there is an intention to trade.

Not to mention why would the Columbus Blue Jackets trade the young Finnish LW? Since coming into the NHL in 2016 Laine’s goals are 36, 44, 30, 20, 12. I understand it is the 12 (between Winnipeg and Columbus) that jumps off the screen. Stop it! Patrik Laine is a pure goal scorer. A sniper in the truest since of the word.

One reason I am able to envision a turnaround for Laine is the Columbus Blue Jackets need, no make that really need a top line center. By all accounts Kekalainen has made that one of the biggest goals this offseason.

That name more than any other that has been attached to the Blue Jackets is disgruntled Buffalo Sabers center Sam Reinhart. Reinhart would be a great fit for the Blue Jackets as top center. Reinhart scores 20+ goals with regularity and his playmaking ability would push the Blue Jackets top line into a very solid group.

A top line of Laine-Reinhart- Bjokstarnd would give the Blue Jackets serious firepower (pun and no pun intended) from the top line. Oliver Bjorkstand is just scratching the surface of what he is capable of, scoring a career high 18 goals last season, yet the right wing (RW) can give even more.

COLUMBUS, OH – MARCH 11: Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena on March 11, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

To recap, the Columbus Blue Jackets need Patrik Laine. He is simply to good to simply trade away. With the right center his numbers will return. Does Columbus want him to do it with another team? I do not think so.

 

What could a Columbus Blue Jackets rebuild look like?

As the days have pressed on since Columbus Blue Jackets defensemen Seth Jones announced he would not re-sign with the team, many fans and media outlets have wondered and pondered if the Blue Jackets were about to embark on a full-blown rebuild. If they do, what would that look like? I offer some thoughts, mind you this is before any trades are made, if any at all.

By many accounts the Columbus Blue Jackets were going to entice Seth Jones to sign a long-term contract by offer him a max deal. 8 years at $9-$9.5 million per-season as well as offer him the teams captaincy. In my opinion the Blue Jackets should now offer that same deal to defensemen Zach Werenski.

Werenski was the captain of the Michigan Wolverines hockey team and by all indications the 24 year old has the respect in the Blue Jackets locker room needed to be named captain. If the Blue Jackets do make the offer and lock up Werenski they would be doing so before he enters his prime years. This would be key.

COLUMBUS, OH – FEBRUARY 2: Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates during the second period of a game against the Dallas Stars on February 2, 2021 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

At just 23 years old and despite coming off his worst pro season the Columbus Blue Jackets should also offer a massive deal to Patrik Laine. A player of Laine’s prowess does not come along everyday. Not to mention Laine like Werenski is not in the prime of his career yet.

Next players that are on the current roster suggest this could be a shorter rebuild. Max Domi, Gustav Nyquist, Eric Robinson, Jack Roslovic, Vladislav Gavrikov and a couple others give hope that shorter rebuild is on the horizon.

Armed with 3 first round draft picks (the first pick is #5 overall) gives the Blue Jackets something to work with. They could use all three first round picks or trade one or two to upgrade the roster to ice a competitive team next season.

CALGARY, AB – MARCH 04: Vladislav Gavrikov #44 of the Columbus Blue Jackets in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 4, 2020 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen is said to be bent on fixing the teams center position which is in desperate need of an upgrade. There is little doubt that the GM will indeed fix the position.

While the Blue Jackets have a lot of salary cap space, they need to be wise how they use it. One thing I believe the organization should do is build around defensemen Zach Werenski and the offensive skills of Patrik Laine. This would be the smart thing to do.