It sounds like Patrik Laine’s time in Columbus has come to an end. Laine, who was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets in a blockbuster trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois, is a pending restricted free agent and judging by his comments to Finnish-language publication YLE, he didn’t exactly have the best time in his new home this season. This is how he explained his time as a Blue Jacket, (translated from Finnish):
“I can’t even stand hockey right now. [This season] was an absolutely miserable experience team-wise and personally. Only good thing is that the season is over. Everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong.”
This prompted Eric Stephens of The Athletic to suggest that the Anaheim Ducks should go after Laine to bolster their offense. The high cost of qualifying his rights ($7.5 million) got Stephens to speculate the Blue Jackets could trade Laine and leave the headache of signing him to somebody else. He believes there could be sufficient cap space for the Ducks to take on Laine but it could come at an expensive cost. It could make it difficult to re-sign Rickard Rakell, Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm before they become unrestricted free agents next summer.
But there is no doubt that Laine would be fun to watch in Anaheim, especially with the possibility of developing chemistry with promising Trevor Zegras.
Stephens might point out the Ducks as a candidate to land Laine this summer, but we bet other teams will investigate.
There is also a chance - we never know - that Laine sticks with the Blue Jackets, seeing that a new head coach will take over for John Tortorella who isn’t returning to Columbus.