On one hand, you can’t blame Patrik Laine and his agents for recommending to Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff that a change of scenery would be beneficial for their client, and the team, in the aftermath of all the speculation that has transpired this past off-season.
But on the other, Cheveldayoff has never publicly stated even once that he is working the phones to see what the best deal is for his seemingly unhappy, or at least unsatisfied, star forward. The most he has said is that individual players will not be discussed (remember Evander Kane and Jacob Trouba?) and all options are being considered to improve the team. So while it’s not a denial, it’s hardly a confirmation either.
Credit Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic for doing his job well, as he always does, by reaching out to Laine’s agents, Andy Scott and Mike Liut, for an update on where things sit, and then being told the message has been shared clearly with Cheveldayoff that it’s time for action.
It has been well documented that Laine is unhappy about not playing enough with Mark Scheifele, and that he doesn’t receive enough top-line minutes for a player of his capabilities. But why should Paul Maurice bust up the trio of Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor if it’s a productive line?
It could be argued Connor has performed more consistently than Laine over a similar timeline and has earned that opportunity. And as some of the metrics shared by the likes of Murat Ates of the Winnipeg Chapter of The Athletic would confirm, Laine has spent considerable playing time in 5-on-5 situations, and on a line with Scheifele. So it’s not totally accurate to suggest his skillset has been compromised by a steady diet of playing with Wheeler, Bryan Little, Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, or Cody Eakin (I’m sure I have missed a couple of names).
But in order for this to be of “mutual benefit,” the Jets will have to get an equitable return, and in a perfect world for Winnipeg, Laine would wind up in the Eastern Conference.
As an example, a reunion with his good buddy Sebastien Aho in Carolina might be a possibility. The Hurricanes have what the Jets are looking for in a top-four defenceman like Brett Pesce — and maybe a Teuvo Teravainen, were this to evolve into a multiplayer swap. And again, this “thinking out loud” should be interpreted only as an example, and not a conversation that is happening or that it has actually happened.
It would be best to make every attempt to get this done before the start of training camp, and avoid what would surely be a complete sideshow — and one that I am pretty sure neither Jets management nor the players would want to be a part of.
Right away there is the natural inclination to compare Laine’s current set of circumstances with what went down with Jacob Trouba just a year and a half ago — and that something must be wrong with Jets management.
If we are to believe Trouba and his agent Kurt Overhardt, that was all about a career conflict issue for the player’s future wife who wanted to remain in the United States to pursue her work in the medical profession.
Some have also thrown Dustin Byfuglien’s name into the conversation of the dissatisfied who have departed as another example that something is askew in the ‘Peg. At last report, via Michael Russo of The Athletic in the Twin Cities and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Buff wasn’t showing any interest in even playing for the Wild in his home state, either.
Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Connor Hellebuyck — and Bryan Little before his injury — all committed long term to this organization. That also says something about Jets management.
Is it possible you can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try?
Kelly Moore is sports director with Global News Radio CJOB 680 in Winnipeg.
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