Patrik Laine could be traded by the Winnipeg Jets as they attempt to reshape their roster for the future, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said Friday.
“So we’re looking at all our options, including potentially trading different players,” Cheveldayoff told NHL.com when asked about recent reports that the forward could be traded.
Laine, selected by the Jets with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has one season left on a two-year, $13.5 million contract ($6.75 million average annual value) he agreed to Sept. 27, 2019.
The 22-year-old scored 63 points (28 goals, 35 assists) in 68 games this season. He sustained a hand injury in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Calgary Flames and didn’t play again in the postseason. The Jets lost the best-of-5 series in four games after finishing ninth in the Western Conference (37-28-6, .563 points percentage).
Laine said before the season that he wanted to play more with the top line and was looking for more on-ice responsibility. He did see some time with first-line center Mark Scheifele but played with center Cody Eakin and left wing Nikolaj Ehlers late in the regular season and during the postseason.
Laine increased his point production — he had 13 fewer points (50; 30 goals, 20 assists) in 14 more games last season — and his average ice time was up by more than two minutes per game, from 17:14 to 19:25, the highest of his four NHL seasons.
Some of that may have been out of need; the Jets lost 325 man-games to injuries this season and were without center Bryan Little for all but seven games because of a head injury.
Winnipeg also struggled with a revamped defenseman group after veterans Tyler Myers (Vancouver Canucks) and Ben Chiarot (Montreal Canadiens) left via free agency, Jacob Trouba was traded to the New York Rangers, and Dustin Byfuglien took a personal leave of absence before training camp began. Byfuglien missed the entire season. He and the Jets mutually agreed to a contract termination April 17.
“If you look at our team and what has happened to our team over the last little bit, we’ve got the Bryan Little situation and we’re trying to understand what the long-term prognosis is going to be,” Cheveldayoff said. “Essentially a year ago now, Dustin decided to walk away from the game. Unfortunately, we lost our No. 1 defenseman, and our No. 2 center hasn’t been able to be with us since Nov. 5 of last season, when he got hurt.
“And given the decisions we had to make during the summer last year, absent of knowing any of those things we were going to be facing, we have some holes that need to be filled in our organization. We have some prospects coming. Is it fair to everybody to say, ‘We’ll just put those guys in?’ Some people may say that’s the way to go. Some people may say not.”
In order to fill some of those voids, the Jets may consider trading Laine, who has 138 goals since entering the NHL in 2016. That is tied for seventh in the League over that four-season span; he trails Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (181), Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs (158), David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins (155), Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning (153), Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers (147) and Connor McDavid of the Oilers (146).