Well, the week of the NHL entry draft and free agency has come and gone and Chuck Fletcher decided to hibernate early this year. With only newly-signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson in tow, it’s been a very quiet offseason so far for the Philadelphia Flyers.
One player they have been linked to is 22-year-old Finnish sniper Patrik Laine. Dave Pagnotta stopped by Brotherly Pod last week to talk about the Laine-to-Philly rumors:
“I wouldn’t call anybody a front-runner… but Philadelphia was aggressive in their pursuit… I don’t really think it got hot and heavy from a negotiations standpoint”
While rumors have cooled over the past week, Patrik Laine’s name was thrust back into the spotlight on Thursday night when TSN broke the news that his agent may be seeking a trade, calling the situation “mutually beneficial” for both Laine and the Jets if he would get dealt. They made it clear Laine has not demanded a trade, but it’s no secret that Laine’s last few seasons in Winnipeg have been noting short of controversial. From a messy contract extension two years ago, to wildly inconsistent ice time, and his role on the team in limbo, it’s no impossible to see why Laine would welcome a change of scenery.
While there haven’t been any clear names going back in return, the fanbase have launched NHL20 and made their own ideal trade situations, which has become quite the talking point in the Twitterverse. Anyone from Travis Konency, to Morgan Frost, Travis Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere, to multiple draft picks, to the statue of Bobby Clarke outside Xfininty Live.
The whirlwind of trade proposals is far too much to take, let alone transcribe in this piece. So rather than crafting a trade scenario, let’s look at the positives of bringing Patrik Laine to Philly.
For starters, his point totals are hard to ignore. With 138 goals and 247 points in 305 NHL games through his first four seasons, those totals would be in the upper echelon on the Flyers’ roster over the past four seasons. In fact he would’ve finished first on the Flyers in goals three of his first four seasons, and finished first in points twice.
At his peak, 44 goals and 70 points is elite level goal scoring in the NHL. In fairness, he has only broke the 40-goal plateau once, but hitting the 30-goal mark three of the four seasons to start your career is nothing to turn your nose up at.
Laine’s eight powerplay goals during the 2019-20 season would’ve lead the Flyers, and his 15 from the previous season would’ve topped the Flyers’ top scorer Sean Couturier by seven. On the flip side, Laine’s 20 even strength goals would also rank first on the Flyers in 2019-20 as well.
An interesting caveat to a Laine trade now versus three weeks ago- the Jets have almost no cap space after adding Paul Stastny back to the roster in what was essentially a cap dump to help the Golden Knights land Alex Pietrangelo. In fact, according to capfriendly.com, the Winnipeg Jets have just shy of 30,000 dollars in cap space left, which means there’d be a limit on their asking price this time around. So instead of asking for the entire Flyers’ roster some were lead to believe, they can really only work within Laine’s $6.75 cap hit.
One other thing to remember is another trade Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has made previously with a former top player of his. While the situation isn’t identical, Jacob Trouba was dealt to the New York Rangers for a first round pick and defenseman Neal Pionk. Now, at the time, Trouba’s contract was up and there wasn’t much cooperation on either side for an extension, so the Jets had no choice but to deal him. While this may not apply to Laine at this very minute, his contract is up at the end of next season and, as addressed earlier, they’ve already gone through one messy extension and with their relationship at a seemingly all-time low, Maybe the Flyers could swoop in somewhere down the line and pick up Laine at a discounted price.
Some folks get tied up in his defensive responsibilities, or lack thereof. And while there are some valid concerns about his two-way play, it shouldn’t be worth getting hung up over. The current roster is stacked with defensive connoisseurs, including the reigning Selke Trophy winner Sean Couturier. Not to mention Oskar Lindblom, Michael Raffl, Claude Giroux, James Van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes, and Scott Laughton, almost guaranteeing whoever he would line up with could cover any mistakes the young sniper would make.
It’s important to not get your hopes up in regards to the Patrik Laine rumors, but that being said, it’s not an impossible deal to make. If Pagnotta was right, the Flyers have at least had preliminary conversations about the star forward, and if Laine’s agent is hell bent on leaving Winnipeg, it could amount to a perfect storm for the Flyers to make a deal for an impact palyer that could be the big fish the Flyers organization so desperately needs. So please, Chuck, do the thing.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: globalnews.ca