Trade rumors are just that, rumors. That doesn’t stop fans from speculating what a top player from another team would look like in orange and black. Most trades have little to no chance of actually coming true, but some are at least feasible based on the need of the team.
One of the top restricted free agents still unsigned less than a month before the start of the regular season is Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine. The 21-year-old is a former second overall pick coming off of a career worst 30-goal, 50-point campaign. That’s right, a career worst of 30 goals.
Laine has voiced his displeasure in Winnipeg, giving multiple interviews stating he is in no hurry to sign a new contract to return to the organization. That has prompted speculation that the sniper is on the trade block.
Even during his down year, his 30 goals and 50 points would have been good enough for second and fourth in the Flyers 2018-19 roster respectively.
The biggest issue for the Flyers regarding Laine is he is currently needs a new contract and given the Flyers already have to sign Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, there isn’t enough cap space to re-sign him without making a move or two. This is where the trade to acquire him could make all the difference.
On the trade market, Laine would be an extremely hot commodity, so the Flyers won’t be able to lowball Winnipeg. That being said, the Jets are coming off of a disappointing season where they were booted from the playoffs much earlier than expected and lost Jacob Trouba and rental Kevin Hayes during the offseason. Couple that with trading Laine and they nee some serious man power to continue to dominate the Central Division.
My best guess for an even trade would be Patrik Laine for James Van Riemsdyk, Shayne Gostisbehere, and a first or second round pick. The Flyers would shed $11.5 million in cap space, more than enough to re-sign Laine. The jets would get JVR, who is a 30+ goal scorer in his own right, and Shayne Gostisbehere, a 26-year-old offensive defenseman who, quite frankly, could use a change of scenery, and with the Flyers blueline a tad crowded at the moment, he is expendable.
Now, the Flyers might need to take a player back in the deal to help the Jets’ cap situation as they also have to sign coveted forward Kyle Connor, so they can’t just straight up eat the contracts of JVR and Gostisbehere. If the Flyers take on Adam Lowry in the trade, his $2.9 million per over the next two seasons would give the Jets a little over $6 million in space, probably not enough for Connor, but that isn’t the Flyers problem.
In the right scenario, there is no real reason to not want Patrik Laine in orange and black. A 30+ goal scoring right winger who’s 21 years old. The Flyers have plenty of elite level passers on their roster, yet not many talented goal scorers. Couturier was the Flyers lone 30 goal scorer this past season, Giroux joined him the season previous, and Wayne Simmonds was the only from to sniff 30 goals from 2015 to 2017.
James Van Riemesdyk may still have an elite level season or two in him, but at 30, his glory days may have passed. He can still be accountable for 25-30 goals, but to expect a rebirth at this point could be asking too much.
Losing Gostisbehere may sting at first, but with the continued progression of both Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers, the need for an offensive defenseman might not be as critical as it has been the past few years.
Will Laine gets dealt to the Flyers? Who knows. But there are many reasons to add him to the team, and plenty of assets, both current and future, to give up for him. A player the caliber of Patrik Laine can be a game changer, and exactly what the Flyers need to move from good to great.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sports.yahoo.com