There isn’t a bigger storyline surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets than what they intend to do with pending RFA forward Patrik Laine. The 23-year-old wing will see his current contract expire at the end of the season, and over the last several weeks, fans and pundits alike have weighed in on whether or not the Jackets should re-sign the forward or trade him.
With how well Laine has been playing lately, the chorus has turned increasingly positive with regards to a long-term contract that would allow him to stay in Columbus for the foreseeable future.
Now Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has said his piece on the situation, giving us some rare insight into what he’s thinking about his future plans. The GM was recently on SiriusXM’s NHL station and had this to say about where Columbus and Laine currently stand (h/t to YardBarker.com for the tweet).
Our Take: There’s not a whole lot of room to read between the lines here, and it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear Kekalainen speak this way about a possible extension for Laine. Still, if he didn’t believe that getting a deal done was possible, there’s a good chance that he wouldn’t go on a national radio show and say what he said.
The Blue Jackets have been through enough roster turnover over the last few seasons; why get their hopes up about keeping Laine if it didn’t seem like a distinct possibility?
There are pros and cons to keeping the player long-term, but lengthier contracts like the one we could see the electric goal scorer sign always carry some risk. The reality is that Laine is young enough that a seven- or eight-year contract extension shouldn’t be too scary.
If Laine wants to stay, like so many players before him haven’t, get the deal done.
Recommended Reading: Blue Jackets prospect Kent Johnson is a good player, but is still facing some tough questions on the road to the NHL.