Jets Land Laine on a Bridge Deal

We are less than a week away from the start the regular season and the top restricted free agent left on the market finally has a new contract so he can get back to work. Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets have reached an agreement on a two-year bridge contract on Friday.

According to Chris Johnson of Sportsnet, Laine’s new contract will pay him an average of $6.75 million over the next two seasons. Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic is reporting that Laine will make $6 million this season and $7.5 million in 2020-21.

Johnson reported that Laine flew back to his native Finland today from Switzerland, where he had been training with SC Bern. He will be heading to Winnipeg next to join the Jets and begin to prepare for their regular-season opener at the New York Rangers on Thursday, Oct. 3.

Laine is a Goal-Scoring Machine

Laine was taken second overall, behind Auston Matthews, at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and has scored 110 goals while adding 74 assists in 237 games. Since he made his NHL debut, he is sixth in goals scored only behind Alex Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov, John Tavares, Connor McDavid and Matthews.

He followed up a 36-goal rookie campaign with a huge sophomore season that saw him score 44 goals and a career-high 70 points. The 2018-19 season was a very streaky one for Laine. After scoring 21 goals in the first 24 games of the season, he finished with just nine over his last 58 contests. He did score a goal in each of the first three games of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which saw the Jets get knocked out of the first round, in six games, by the eventual champion St. Louis Blues.

Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets, Calder Trophy
Laine can now focus on putting the puck into the back of the net across the NHL. (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)

The summer has been one full of question marks for Laine and the Jets. First, the 21-year-old sniper decided to workout in Europe while waiting for a new contract. Then, earlier this month, he gave an interview with Finnish hockey journalist Pekka Jalonen where he revealed just exactly how frustrated he was with the whole process.

During the interview, he suggested that he should be playing with better linemates than one head coach Paul Maurice puts him on the ice with.

“In contract negotiations, one thing always is who you are playing with,” Laine told Jalonen in Finnish. “With the merits I have, somewhere else I’d have an opportunity to play with the best players. Everyone who understands hockey should know that.”

Jets Still Have Some Business to Handle

This two-year agreement is exactly the type of contract Laine was looking for. According to Elliotte Friedman, in his 31 Thoughts column from Sept. 10, the young star wanted a shorter bridge deal as opposed to a long-term one. This deal will allow Laine to put up some big numbers over the next two seasons and then look for a huge contract in the summer of 2021. He will still be a restricted free agent, so the Jets don’t have to worry about losing him on the open market.

This offseason has been quite eventful for a very talented group of young players whose entry-level contracts expire. With Laine under contract, the two biggest names still unsigned are his Jets teammate Kyle Connor and Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche. It will be interesting to see how quickly those two are signed as now the Jets have set the market value for Connor and Rantanen is represented by Michael Liut, who is also Laine’s agent.

Kyle Connor Winnipeg Jets
Connor’s new contract is the next order of business for the Jets. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This has been a very trying summer for the Jets and their rabid fan base. They traded defenseman Jacob Trouba to the Rangers in June and will start the season without Dustin Byfuglien as he contemplates retirement. Today’s good news will go a long way to help boost excitement up in Winnipeg.