Everyone involved from a Columbus Blue Jackets perspective is thrilled about the blockbuster trade that saw Pierre-Luc Dubois go to the Winnipeg Jets. That includes the two incoming players in Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.
You could tell this was the case for many reasons. Among them, the Blue Jackets’ players looked much looser in their 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. It seemed the weight of the world was lifted off their shoulders.
But you could also see that GM Jarmo Kekalainen and head coach John Tortorella were happy about the result. The overall feeling around the team has taken a complete 180 from the time the game ended Thursday night until now. Doom and gloom has suddenly turned into new life for everyone on the Blue Jackets.
Just look at what was said.
What They Said
“Patrik is a player we know very well and in a short time has become one of our league’s most proficient goal scorers. Jack is an exciting young player with great potential and we’re thrilled to bring him home to Columbus as a Blue Jacket.” -Kekalainen
“We’re thrilled. We’re really anxious to get them here.” -Tortorella
“It’s awesome being part of the Blue Jackets’ organization. Everything I’ve heard about the city and organization, it’s been nothing but positive things.” -Laine
“I’ve had season tickets since they’ve (the Blue Jackets) started in 2000 and I’ve watched the team grow and I’ve watched the city grow. I think it’s not even close to the potential and I’m just super excited to be a part of it.” -Roslovic
For everyone involved, not only is it thrilling, it’s a sense of relief. Each had to overcome some adversity to get to this day.
Kekalainen seemed willing to wait to see how the season played out. Then Dubois was benched after a series of poor performances. The last of which forced Kekalainen’s hand. He had to act now or else the season could have went off the rails. He had to do it quickly in such a way that now help came back to the Blue Jackets.
As for Tortorella, he had to overcome all the questions being asked about benching his number-one center. He also had to keep close eye on the Blue Jackets’ room given everything that was going on. Tortorella did what he always does when a player is badly struggling. He remained consistent in his approach in the face of adversity. Now he has two players that want to be with the Blue Jackets instead of one who doesn’t.
That too is a job well done.
Then there’s both Laine and Roslovic. Laine rumors have been around for some time now. It felt like it was only a matter of when before a deal was done. The fit didn’t seem right. He seemed unhappy with his role. But even despite all of that, he performed hard and scored two goals in his last game with the Jets including an overtime winner. That was noticed by everyone on the Blue Jackets.
Roslovic requested a trade from the Jets and wasn’t going to play for them again. He got lost in the depth chart and really never got a chance to prove he could play higher in the lineup. He’s been in Columbus waiting for resolution. Meanwhile he’s been training and working out in case this opportunity came. Now he gets to live out his dream and play for the team he grew up watching.
But to a man, you can see just how happy everyone is. Whether it leads to success later is yet to be determined. But for now, a fresh start and a new opportunity awaits Laine and Roslovic. They are eager and can’t wait to join the Blue Jackets. The team can’t wait for them to join either.
Everyone from top to bottom is thrilled about the trade.
The GBU: Games 5 & 6
Good: Taking three points from the Lightning. Even though the world seemed like it was crumbling around them, the Blue Jackets took three of four points from the Lightning and now sit at hockey .500. They put extra focus on the neutral zone in the rematch. In the second half of the game, they locked the middle of the ice down and took away the time and space the Lightning love to have. Tortorella acknowledged postgame that was a focus. Zach Werenski said this was a focus as well saying they wanted to limit odd-man rushes. Saturday looked like the Blue Jackets we’re used to seeing. These two games should help their confidence moving forward.
Bad: The Dubois situation. And oh man was this bad. The shift everyone is talking about was as bad an effort as I’ve seen in a long time. Then he compounded it by skating away from his teammates. He looked like a player that did not want to be there. Even though he was going to be as good a teammate as possible, his presence was a distraction. We may never know why he wanted out. But the Blue Jackets had to act now. They did. It’s time to move forward.
Ugly: Mitchell Stephens injury. The replay of this injury is brutal. Stephens got pulled back in an awkward way as he got caught up with two Blue Jackets’ players and had to be helped off the ice. Jon Cooper said postgame he will be out a while. Defensemen Erik Cernal left the game also and didn’t return. Injury trouble seems to be hitting the Lightning early.
- It’s too early to say who wins the trade. For now, you can see why each side pulled the trigger. The players expressed their desire to want out. Each bring something different to the table that can help their clubs. The Blue Jackets get a tremendous boost in scoring with Laine and a player who will finally get a prime opportunity to show his stuff in Roslovic. The Jets get one of the better two-way centers in the game. This will be an interesting trade to follow for many years. But let’s hold off declaring a winner right away.
- We asked our Jets’ writer Declan Schroeder to provide some insight into what to expect from both Laine and Roslovic. Here’s what he had to say.
- On Laine: “Patrik Laine possesses a once-in-a-generation shot and has taken steps to becoming a more complete player. He’s prone to ups and downs but there’s no denying that he’s an utterly unique talent who can turn a game on its head in the blink of an eye. Not many players have accomplished what he has by age 22. He’s a criminally underrated passer and his booming one-timer is a boon to any power play. He doesn’t use his big frame as much as he could but he’s starting to add some more physicality to his game.”
- More Schroeder on Laine: “He doesn’t eat, breathe, and sleep hockey like many other players and takes a bit of a casual approach to being a professional athlete, but there’s no doubt he’ll be an electrifying player for many years to come and will probably reach the 50-goal plateau sooner than later.”
- Schroeder on Roslovic: “Roslovic is a bit of an enigma who has struggled to live up to his billing. He can play centre and wing and does have a hard and accurate shot. He was given chances in seasons past to shoulder a top-six role but struggled when assigned it. Overall, he’s a player who still has good potential but has developed a lot slower than a lot of others from the draft year and his ceiling looks to be the third line at this point. He wanted to be on the Jets’ top-six — a place he didn’t deserve to be — and that led to him holding out as an RFA.”
- Both the Blue Jackets and Jets still have questions to answer. Can the Blue Jackets get Laine to sign long-term? Laine said Saturday he is open to the idea. How will the Blue Jackets handle center? Roslovic, Max Domi, Alex Texier and Mikko Koivu can play as well as some others including Boone Jenner. Will Dubois consider long-term in Winnipeg? How will they address their defense now that their forward ranks are in order? Speaking of their forwards, that North Division has quite the talent down the middle.
- Roslovic can join the team after completing protocol. That is 48 hours since he was already in Columbus. Laine has to settle both protocol and visa issues as well as his injury. He did say he is not too worried about the injury. He expects to be ready when he arrives.
- If the Blue Jackets power play can’t get going with Laine, then it seems nothing will help them.
- Texier is a rising star. He’s gaining more confidence every day. He’s been playing against top competition including against Brayden Point on Saturday and enjoying some success. He says he likes this kind of play.
- The Blue Jackets looked super prepared to defend the Lightning power play. Late in the third period, the Lightning couldn’t get much going on the man advantage. An adjustment by the Blue Jackets paid off. Victor Hedman likes to carry the puck and then pass back off the wall to Point. The Blue Jackets saw that and defended this play extremely well. Without Nikta Kucherov in their lineup, the Lightning will miss his ability to enter the zone. This was an important kill in a 4-2 game and demonstrated the importance of controlling the neutral zone against a high-octane offense. Tortorella’s message to the team to improve in the middle of the ice was received and it resulted in an important win.
- Kekalainen said that Koivu should be ready to return on Tuesday after being on the Covid protocol list.
- The Blue Jackets continue their home stand with a pair of games against Sergei Bobrovsky, Alex Wennberg and the Florida Panthers. Roslovic should be ready to go by then assuming he clears protocol with no issues.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.