In the cap-strapped world, teams are hardly able to make any moves without offsetting money. And, as you all know, to get good players, you have to give up good players.
With the two key points above in the back of my mind, I listened further to the podcast. The main topic of debate, when they were on this subject: Blue Jacket winger Patrik Laine. Laine was made a healthy scratch on Sunday night, after a brutal performance Saturday in Washington – including a turnover that led to the eventual game-winning goal.
The healthy scratch didn’t really come as a huge surprise to me. I mean, it did, because it’s Patrik Laine. But, it also did not, because you could visibly see how upset head coach Pascal Vincent was after Saturday night’s game. He had to hold back on his words, and the look on his face told me that he was unhappy with one player in particular. Without saying it, he told us that Laine was in his crosshairs.
Taking all of the facts into hand, let’s summarize. The Jackets are looking to improve their lineup by adding a strong center. Teams are pressed right up against the cap, so money has to go both ways. And, you aren’t trading some package including Eric Robinson, Emil Bemstrom, and Andrew Peeke for anything meaningful.
With all of that in mind: is Patrik Laine the trade chip this team is pushing in for a center?
Friedman certainly talks about this team coming to a crossroads, and I wonder if that crossroads isn’t at the management level, as some might have assumed he implied? I wonder if that crossroads is, in fact, with Laine, who has shown stretches of brilliance here – followed up by longer stretches of inconsistent play.
Bear with me for a second, because this might hurt: when Laine is having success, does the team really seem to have much success? What I mean by that isn’t that Patty is hurting the team, or that things can’t work here (though, lets be honest, it has not worked yet). More so, what I mean here is that when he’s been in the lineup, or out of the lineup, have we really noticed all that much of a difference in the team’s overall play?
It’s hard to say. One thing I’m sure of: Patrik Laine is one of the elite goal scoring wingers on this planet. In that regard, I do think the Jackets need to either find a way to get him to the top of that game, where he can be a productive goal scorer – key note: on the wing – or, they need to cut ties with him and allow him to thrive somewhere else. There are teams out there that have depth down the middle, but have a lack of a true scoring threat on the wing. Without running through all of them, just at a glance, I could see where deals could be centered around these pieces.
Maybe I’m reading too much into the podcast. Or, maybe not. Maybe the Blue Jackets are looking to restructure their team’s future, without Patrik Laine involved. Maybe this was Elliotte’s way of preparing us, and the rest of the league, for that future. Time will tell.