If Boston Bruins President Cam Neely and General Manager Don Sweeney truly aren’t under a Jeremy Jacobs-imposed ‘internal spending cap’ and want to redeem themselves for what’s been a ‘pedestrian offseason’ thus far, then they should be doing everything in their power to engineer a Bruins trade for Winnipeg Jets sniper Patrik Laine.
An NHL source has confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that Sweeney did due diligence on Laine in the weeks following his team’s second-round series loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning but not much came from it. Laine’s name has been on the trade rumor circuit for a while, and it appears inevitable he will be dealt. The 22-year-old Finnish winger scored 28 goals this past season and hit the 30-goal plateau in each of his first three NHL seasons, will become the biggest get on the market.
And he should be a prime Bruins trade target.
Laine’s representatives, Mike Liut and Andy Scott, recently spoke to Pierre LeBrun and told the TSN and Athletic Insider that it would be “mutually beneficial to both the player and the team if Patrik Laine is traded.”
Here is LeBrun’s full report from his discussions with the Laine camp:
“I reached out to his representation agents, Andy Scott and Mike Liut, to get some clarity, and they absolutely deny that. That Laine has not asked for a trade, he’s not threatening to not be a camp if he’s not dealt.
Having said that, his agents also made clear that it’s fair to say that given that Laine knows his name has been in trade discussions as we’ve talked about here and given that his usage in the lineup the last couple of years has been a constant topic of conversation, the fact that he doesn’t get consistent first-line minutes, his agents Mike Liut and Andy Scott do confirm that it probably would be mutually beneficial to both the player and the team if Patrik Laine is traded and that there is clear communication between them and Kevin Cheveldayoff, the GM of the Winnipeg Jets, about this.
Now I spoke to Kevin Cheveldayoff on this day. And he reiterated that he’s looking at all options when it comes to trade and that Patrik Laine remains a big part of the organization. …He’s not going to just trade Patrik Laine for the sake of it. That it’s going to have to be something that makes sense for the Winnipeg Jets, but I will say this, as Andy Scott, the agent for Patrik Laine, said to me, there is a clear understanding between both sides about where this is probably headed.”
Patrik Laine Is The Trade Win The Bruins Need
Lebrun’s Winnipeg-based colleague Murat Ates recently wrote a column making a case for Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff not to trade the disgruntled winger but in the process also made a case for why it’s the perfect time for another GM to pounce.
“Teams don’t typically win trades in which they give up the best player, nor is it easy to win a trade wherein a still-developing 22-year-old sniper who is seventh in goal-scoring since his rookie season is the centerpiece of the deal,” Ates wrote.
The Bruins and their fans know that all too well. In July 2013, with GM Peter Chiarelli, one of the great Bruins trade errors was dealing the budding 21-year-old superstar Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars in July 2013. It was barely a Bruins trade as they absolutely got fleeced in the deal. Let’s not forget what happened with the Bruins trade of Joe Thornton on November 30, 2005, either! Wouldn’t it be nice for the Bruins and their fans to be on the right side of a trade that involves a superstar changing teams?
With Laine, Sweeney and Cheveldayoff would need to get creative, but a Patrik Laine to the Bruins trade is still feasible. With restricted free agent Matt Grzelcyk signing a four-year contract that carries a $3.6 million cap hit Saturday, Sweeney now has $7.35 million to sign restricted free agents Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman, and Zach Senyshyn. However, we know already that Sweeney has engaged in trade discussions about DeBrusk, so would there be a fit in a potential trade for Laine? What about Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, who has also reportedly been brought up in trade talks?
The Jets had just $27,145 in cap space as of Saturday, so Cheveldayoff might not be willing to potentially take back Carlo’s one year at $2.8 million and then whatever DeBrusk would be signing for ($4.5-$5 million) in what’s likely to be a bridge deal for the 23-year-old winger, even if the Bruins were willing to take another player back to even the salary exchange. That’s why the Jets GM would likely want a first round pick and a top prospect back to go along with DeBrusk if he was the centerpiece coming from Boston.
Will Bruins Reward Cup Core With Laine?
Sources recently told BHN that new Arizona Coyotes GM Billy Armstrong was immediately told that Bruins top prospect Jack Studnicka was a non-starter in any trade talks for defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson before Ekman-Larsson’s Oct. 9 trade deadline that came and went without the Coyotes captain being dealt. The Bruins envision Studnicka being part of the Bruins 2021 opening night lineup and for many more to come as center David Krejci’s contract expires after this coming season. Patrice Bergeron does the same after the 2021-22 season. So with that in mind, Cheveldayoff would be forced to accept another Bruins prospect. Given the fact that the Laine camp has now taken away Cheveldayoff’s leverage by pushing for a trade, that’s not as unlikely as it may have seemed just a month ago.
One sticking point for the Bruins would be that Laine has one year left with a $6.75 million cap hit and is then due for a $7.5 million qualifying offer heading into the 2021-22 season. As mentioned above, though, Krejci’s $7.2 million cap hit comes off the books then, as does the $7 million cap hit Tuukka Rask carries. Carlo (RFA), Ondrej Kase (RFA), Nick Ritchie (RFA), Anton Blidh (RFA), Jaro Halak (UFA), Sean Kuraly (UFA), Par Lindholm (UFA), Greg McKegg (UFA) are also all playing on expiring contracts. So, while that mega qualifying offer looks daunting, it could be feasible.
There’s no secret that this upcoming season is probably the last kick at the can for the remaining 2011 Stanley Cup champions on the Bruins to win one more Stanley Cup. The question now is, have Sweeney and Neely already moved on and shut that window when they look at the big picture and the future? Or can they get creative and not only give that Cup core and the 2021 Bruins a legit chance to hoist Lord Stanley but help future teams by bringing in a 22-year-old, who, when healthy, has the potential to be a 40-50-goal scorer for likely each of the next eight seasons?
If there truly is no internal cap, and Jacobs wants Sweeney and Neely to continue to put a contender out there, it can’t hurt to at least make a real effort to acquire a young talent like Patrik Laine.