The Columbus Blue Jackets have been a scrappy bunch. An every player chips in and win games together kind of team. Great! But not since the days of Rick Nash have the Blue Jackets had an impact player like Patrik Laine. In Laine, the Blue Jackets have a single player who can take over games even if it did not show during last seasons poor performance. Laine, agreed to a qualifying offer and will make $7.5 million next season. What happens next appears to be up to him.
When the curtain closes on the 2021-22 NHL season Patrik Laine will once again be a RFA (restricted free agent.) That simply means the Columbus Blue Jackets hold his rights.
Laine struggled like just about all of the Blue Jacket players this past season. Yet, if there is anyone poised for a comeback it is the gifted Finnish scorer. Laine knows it and so does the Blue Jackets front office. This is where it gets interesting.
The fact that both player and franchise are on the same page is huge. Both agree Laine can and will be better. Both sides are willing to negotiate a long term deal. Laine has said and continues to say he wants to be in Columbus and chipped in “I already got traded.”
This is my opinion on the situation. The Blue Jackets and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen hold the cards. If Laine rebounds as many NHL and hockey experts believe he will the Blue Jackets could trade him for more assets as the team is in rebuild mode.
The smarter choice for Columbus, again in my opinion would be to sign Laine to a long-term deal and build around him. With the NHL’s best draft last weekend the Blue Jackets now have prospects who can feed the puck to Laine and allow him to do what he does best, score goals.
A one year qualifying offer is basically a “prove it” deal. There is little doubt Patrik Laine will prove it.