Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is getting sick and tired of seeing Patrik Laine’s name mentioned in trade rumors. The Blue Jackets executive has seen this song and dance before and didn’t mince words when he discussed the latest rumors with The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.
Kekalainen mentioned he’s bothered by all the noise and had this to say to LeBrun:
Yeah, it bothers me because people make up shit, that’s what bothers me. I understand that sometimes from conversations you have (with teams), some of it may leak out, and a name gets in there, but this is not a case like that. This is just somebody making shit up from their own speculation of what we might do. They make it up and hope for the headlines and hope for the clicks. I think that’s unethical. And I don’t have any time for it.
Laine is a pending restricted free agent (RFA) who has once again discovered his scoring touch. The 23-year-old is under contract this season for $7.5 million and will be looking for a long-term deal in the same neighborhood of annual salary.
Laine has 20 goals and 18 assists in 35 games so far this season and is starting to look like his ‘old self’ after a disappointing 2020-21 season. You can’t blame Kekalainen for not feeling rushed about the whole process as Laine is still an RFA for two more seasons. He opened up about what’s next between the two sides:
When the time is right, we’re going to sit down and look at all the options together and see if we can come to a solution that he will stay for us for a term that fits the need of both sides and for the dollars that meet the needs of both sides. Let’s see if there’s a marriage that we can get into. And if not, you know, that’s hockey. I always say, every player that gets into the time frame when they can become (unrestricted) free agents, they can do that if they want to. And there’s not much we can do about it
The Blue Jackets sit with a 28-25-1 record on the season, as they will once again miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If they do end up keeping Laine around, they have a lot of work to find him some teammates who can push the needle and get the team back into the postseason.
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