5 landing spots for Patrik Laine after trade request from Blue Jackets

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils
Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Patrik Laine reportedly has requested a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets after spending parts of four seasons with the organization. The former second-overall pick in 2016 is looking for a fresh start and the Blue Jackets are willing to work with him on the request.

When healthy, Laine is a dynamic goal scorer with 208 goals in 480 NHL games, including 44 in 2017-18 with the Winnipeg Jets. But he’s battled injuries, including a broken clavicle in 2023-24, the past few seasons. He only played 16 games this past season due to the injury and entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.

It should be noted that he has yet to be reinstated for the 2024-25 season, though that is expected to happen.

Laine has two more seasons remaining on his contract, which comes with an $8.7 million salary cap hit per year.

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5 potential Blue Jackets trade partners for Patrik Laine

Let’s examine five potential landing spots for the 26-year-old forward.

1 – San Jose Sharks

After finishing dead last in the NHL last season (19-54-9), things can only go up for the San Jose Sharks. They are all but guaranteed to select Macklin Celebrini with the No. 1-overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, and what better gift to give the 18-year-old center than the chance to play with a true sniper like Laine? And new coach Ryan Warsofsky’s job becomes even more appealing with Laine in the lineup.

The Sharks are projected to have almost $36 million in cap space per Puckpedia, meaning they should have no problem taking on Laine’s complete $8.7 million cap hit. Pairing him with a projected generational talent in Celebrini could help reignite Laine’s game, too, and make the Sharks a much more respectable team come next season.

2 – Chicago Blackhawks

Another team with a young generational talent could take a swing at Laine this offseason. Bringing him in to join Connor Bedard could make the Chicago Blackhawks an offensive powerhouse. With a projected $33 million in cap space, they are another team who would have no issues taking on Laine’s contract.

After finishing second to last in the NHL, Chicago could use plenty of help. With Bedard expected to have an even better season than his 61-point rookie campaign, adding Laine could fast track the kid to even greater heights.

3 – Utah

The new NHL franchise in Utah has a lot of money and draft assets to work with. With almost $41 million in cap space, they are sure to be in the hunt for some of the top free agents July 1. If things don’t go according to plan, Laine could be a great backup option. Utah is loaded with 13 picks in this year’s draft, somet they could use in a trade with the Blue Jackets, and would have no problem taking on his cap hit.

A fresh start with a new franchise could be exactly what Laine needs to get going again. Playing alongside Clayton Keller might help too. If Laine can get back to the 40-goal scorer he once was, Utah could be a surprise team in their inaugural season in Salt Lake City.

4 – Washington Capitals

It is only fitting that the once dubbed “Finnish Ovechkin” may end up playing alongside the man himself. The Washington Capitals barely squeaked into the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, and were promptly dismissed by the New York Rangers in a four-game sweep. Their No. 1 issue, both in the regular season and postseason, was lack of offense.

After moving on from Evgeny Kuznetsov and his $7.8 million contract, the Capitals are projected to have $4.3 million in cap space. Making some moves, or having Columbus retain some salary, could create a world in which Laine finds himself playing on the same team as Alex Ovechkin next season.

5 – Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina poses an interesting situation. They were linked to Laine this past season and have a projected $29.2 million in cap space. However, they have 11 free agents on their roster searching for new deals. It is clear that they will not be able to bring everyone back, leaving the future of the organization surrounded by question marks this offseason.

Depending on who Carolina keeps, they may have enough room to fit in a trade for Laine. There would almost certainly have to be salary retention, but it is a high-risk move that could get the Hurricanes over the hump if it pans out. After making at least the second round for the past six seasons, Carolina is going to have to try something to make the jump and win a championship. Perhaps Laine is a route they consider.

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