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Laine Debate

April 9, 2021, 1:49 PM ET [29 Comments]
Thomas Townsend
Columbus Blue Jackets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
To keep or not to keep...

What might the CBJ line up look like nest season? My guess is that the answer to that question hinges on Laine wearing the Union Blue or bringing back assets.

To keep Laine two things would be necessary for him to be successful in Columbus. First, a coach that will let the offensively talented players create scoring chances. Having structure is good, but allow them to use their creativity within a loose structure rather than focusing on their ability to play defense first.

Second, is a complementary center. Notice I didn't say a 1C. I think a center that can drive play and gel with Laine would be ideal. Those attributes may mean this unknown player needs to be a 1C, but I don't believe he has to be.

I'm going to make the following assumptions for the sake of argument in both scenarios about keeping and trading Laine:

Foligno will have too high a price tag (assigned by Jarmo) and he will re-sign with the CBJ in the off season for somewhere around $4M per year, 3 years.

Riley Nash and Michael Del Zotto are not likely to return to the CBJ line up in 2022.
Savard, as much as we all value him, will net the CBJ a decent return at the trade deadline and likely be skating in another sweater next season.
The last assumption is the Gus Nyquist will be healthy enough to skate next season. Sorry, one more, the CBJ will NOT get the #1 pick and will draft a first-round player that isn't ready to join the roster on day 1.

Scenario 1: CBJ re-sign Laine...

Jarmo goes hunting for another impact forward, ideally a center. Players like Elvis Merzlikins, Emil Bemstrom, Alexandre Texier and Zach Werenski are fair game. JK will not go searching for a diamond-in-the-rough player to pair with Laine, this will be 'big game hunting.' Caveat here, Zach Werenski would only be in play if the CBJ extend Seth Jones.

Serious talent could be returned with a package combination including some (not all) of those players. I've mentioned it before, but Jarmo must take the Jeff Carter trade as a cautionary tale. Not every player wants to leave their current team or come to Columbus. A trade like this is more likely after the season when a new coach is in place and after the playoffs when a player like this is more likely to be available.

2022 line up:

Bjork - Unknown 1C - Laine
Gus - Domi - Cam
Roslovic - Foligno - Jenner
Fix-Wolansky - Grigorenko - Robinson

Extra Forwards: Stenlund, Bemstrom, Foudy

Jones - Gavrikov
Peeke - Kukan
Carlsson - Harringon

Extra Defense: Unknown UFA, Lehtonen (or another youngster)


In this scenario I removed Werenski, Merzlikins and Texier. My guess is that the CBJ would not need to give up that much to get the 'Unknown 1C' and if they did it would also return an NHL roster defenseman as well.

Scenario 2: Laine gets dealt...

This would mean that the roster would look much like it does this year plus pieces exchanged for Laine. That could be futures, rostered NHL players or a combination of both. My guess is that it would be a combo.

Bjork - Domi - Gus
Roslovic - Texier - Cam
Jenner - Grigorenko - Foligno
Bemstrom - Stenlund - Robinson

Extra Forwards: Foudy, Unknown P1, Fix-Wolansky

Jones - Werenski
Gavrikov - Kukan
Peeke - Harringon

Extra Defense: Harringon, Carlsson, Lehtonen (or another youngster, or UFA)


In this scenario I assume that Laine nets a marginal NHL forward and futures. Be it prospects or draft picks, I don't see them factoring into the CBJ NHL roster in 2022.

Honestly, after going through this exercise, I believe scenario #2 is what I would choose. The more and more I mull this over, I believe either scenario would play out in the off season rather than at the trade deadline. The big void would continue to be at center.

Losing Savard fundamentally changes the CBJ defensive strategy. I think that happens in either scenario. The D looks very thin in scenario #1 without Z, but he could bring back a big return. Next year's on-ice product is going to give up goals, but I also believe they will score a little more easily as well.

This isn't a rebuild, rather a re-tooling, if done correctly. A coaching change with a commitment to a new style of playing should go a long way to producing a better result next season and beyond.
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