News out of Columbus continues to increase speculation that Patrik Laine is struggling to figure it out with the Blue Jackets. It isn’t just this year either. But the quote below really speaks to what the issue might be and it’s something the Chicago Blackhawks may want to keep an eye on.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) November 19, 2023
Laine, like Vincent points out, is a dynamic player. But if the Blue Jackets and that dynamic player aren’t going to work, could the Blackhawks buy when his stock is likeliest at what might be its lowest point?
Big Cap Hit Easily Absorbed by the Blackhawks
Now, if there’s any team who can absorb a big cap hit, it’s the Blackhawks. Laine’s cap hit over with two more seasons to go is $8.7M and the Jackets aren’t exactly getting the best return on it. Since his breakout year with the Jets, Laine hasn’t registered 30 goals or more since 2018-19. Then traded to the Blue Jackets, he hasn’t played a full season and has watched his totals drop in the past two seasons.
This season so far? Nine games with three points, with a pair as goals. But if we’re looking at the final line of head coach Pascal Vincent’s quote, it’s that “no one is bigger than the Blue Jackets.”
Is that related to attitude? Perhaps just a way to describe the culture they want? Regardless of what it is, maybe Columbus isn’t the right fit anymore and if that’s indeed the case, perhaps lining up beside Connor Bedard could cure the ills that Laine has right now.
He’s still only 25 years old, and frustration is boiling over on so many fronts in Columbus. So would it be worth potentially a friendly phone call to poke around and see what the Blue Jackets would want if indeed a trade was a reality.
Laine Brings Scoring Pedigree But It’s Been Dormant
So here’s where it gets thorny: how do you find the right package to make a trade like this. First, absorbing the entire contract would give Chicago leverage. It would allow them to send over prospects or players who would not raid the prospect pool that the Blackhawks currently have.
But based on the idea that Chicago would be gaining a potential star who’s currently in hibernation would also cost a bit.
So, what would it look like? This is also a part that is difficult to gauge. Are the Blue Jackets really going to want to stick out more years in a rebuild? Will they gladly take another first-round pick? Would they even want one?
Starting points would have to include the likes of Lukas Reichel, who could slot in at wing, and is still only 21-years old. Columbus would probably want one of the prospects up front so that would likely include:
- Oliver Moore, Frank Nazar, or Gavin Hayes
- Nick Lardis, Landon Slaggert, Colton Dach, or Martin Misiak
Potential is a thing and the Blackhawks have a lot of it. But do you part with it? The stark reality is that not all the talent will make it to Chicago and that for every one that hits, there’s another “can’t miss” who stalls or falls short.
Lessening just how much they give up could be done in the way of a first-round pick (Tampa’s) and a second would help.
Again, it’s all about potential and the direction they plan on taking. The gut says they’d want a guy ready for the show and a first-round pick–likely someone like Reichel. But with the last few seasons in mind, that could be an overpayment.
The Blackhawks are flush with prospects and picks to have an enticing look at it. It would net them a potential 40-goal scorer who seems to be prime for a new location with obviously some struggles in his past performance.
But does it fit both teams needs and wants?
Seems worth a phone call at least.