The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed Patrik Laine to a one-year deal worth $7.5 million. As a restricted free agent, Laine accepted the qualifying offer from the Blue Jackets on Tuesday and will have another year to prove himself in Columbus. He will be a restricted free agent once again at the end of this season.
The fifth-year right winger spent his first four seasons with the Winnipeg Jets before coming to the Blue Jackets with Jack Roslovic via trade early in the 2020-21 season. After exploding onto the scene in his first two seasons — scoring 64 and 70 points, respectively — Laine followed it up with 113 points in 150 games over the next two years before appearing in one game with the Jets this past season prior to the trade.
Since joining the Blue Jackets, Laine appeared in 45 games while scoring 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points. Laine finished second in voting for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie after posting 36 goals and 28 assists for 64 points in 73 games played his rookie year.
Fit With the Blue Jackets
The 23-year-old Finn will continue to play on the right side of the top-line for the Blue Jackets. Currently skating alongside Roslovic and Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus will need to provide Laine with a true number one centre to help take the pressure off the young winger.
Laine will also hope to benefit from a coaching change in Columbus this offseason. While Laine and head coach John Tortorella did not always see eye-to-eye, the young winger has already had a brushup with his new head coach. In the second week with his new team, Laine reportedly “mouthed off” to Brad Larsen who was an assistant coach at the time. Larsen has since been named head coach after Tortorella was dismissed following the conclusion of this past season.
By agreeing to the one-year term both Laine and the Blue Jackets give themselves the 2021-22 season to prove that this will be the best fit moving forward.
Born and raised in Michigan, Kyle Knopp started playing hockey when he was 3 years old. Knopp has played, coached, or worked at every level of ice hockey — including three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings where he was part of the Stanley Cup Championship team in 2008. He covers the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers and is the editor of THW’s Morning Skate newsletter. You can follow him on Twitter @THW_Knopp.