It’s been made pretty clear by most people who are in the know around the NHL that there won’t be a lot of trades this season. Most NHL teams’ current cap structure combined with the mandatory quarantine period that any traded player would have to go through means GMs around the league must think twice before making a move. However, that hasn’t stopped multiple big-name players from either asking for a trade or insinuating that they want a new home. It was surprising news to some when it was reported last week that Pierre-Luc Dubois wanted out of Columbus. Some thought it was just a leverage move to get more money on his contract, but then he re-signed a two year ten million bridge deal. And yet, PLD still wanted out. There would be nothing that could or would change his mind. Rumours swirled around Dubois and Head Coach John Tortorella’s relationship, as it wouldn’t be the first time Torts has ruffled some feathers. This clip circled last year during the Blue Jackets play-in round against the Leafs too.
But Elliotte Friedman said on the latest 31 Thoughts podcast that the biggest reason PLD wants a move is that he “just wants a bigger stage,” more on that later.
Patrik Laine’s case is similar, the dynamic winger has had his ups and downs in a Jets uniform, but it still isn’t exactly clear why Laine wants a trade. Part of it seems to be he doesn’t like how he’s been treated at times or his spot in the lineup, and I would assume part of it is because he wants a more prominent stage like Dubois. The players are connected interestingly enough in that Dubois was taken just a pick after Laine in the 2016 draft. While Laine’s career started off hot, it had stagnated a little bit before a solid 28 goal, 63 point campaign last year. On the other hand, Dubois has gotten better every year. His showing in the bubble opened some people’s eyes to his ability. Both players are on bridge deals, and both players are just 22 years old. I’m going to pick what I think is the best team fit for both of these players solely based on need and situation. This has nothing to do with any rumours or who I believe Laine and PLD will get traded to. It is all about the best, most realistic scenario for the player.
The Wild get their much-needed 1C
Hear me out, when you go down the list of teams in the NHL that need a number one center the most, the team at the top of that list is the Minnesota Wild, and it isn’t really a debate. Could you imagine a top line of Kevin Fiala, PLD and Kirill Kaprizov? It would be one of the most fun to watch in the league. Looking at the trade components, Dubois is a first-line center who can do just about everything you’d want and is only 22 years old. He is going to cost an absolute shit ton. Columbus also does not need to trade him. He’s under contract for at least the next two years. For the Wild, they’ve been looking to move Matt Dumba since he was a little kid, at least that’s what it feels like. There were reports they were looking to move him for a centre too. The one problem here admittedly could be Dubois’ desire for a bigger stage. However, of all the American NHL franchises, no one cares more about the sport or their team than Minnesota. They are called the State of Hockey for a reason! I think Dubois ideally would like to play for a Canadian team, but that just does not seem realistic at this time, and this is the next best thing. The Wild play on national TV 6 times this year and will be in a push for that final playoff spot in the West division. The Wild is a young, hungry team with a good coach that loves to play his best players for plenty of minutes.
On the other side, Columbus needs to decide about the direction they want to take their franchise. Jarmo Kekalainen never has a GM that’s wanted to rebuild, but if there ever was a time, it has to be now. This wouldn’t even have to be a full-scale rebuild, just take this year off and either use the first-round pick you’re getting or move it in a trade. You get an exciting prospect in Matthew Boldy, who was picked 12th overall by the Wild in 2019. The American is a great skater and possesses silky hands. He was one of the USA’s best players at the 2021 World Juniors, where they won gold. Columbus needs talent and Boldy fits that bill. Greenway and Dumba are both players that would make Columbus a better team right away while also being just 23 and 26 years old, respectively. Dumba makes the money work and would help fill the void of losing Ryan Murray in the offseason, rounding out CBJ’s top 4. Greenway would be a perfect Tortorella player. He is gritty, hard to play against and reliable in his own zone. He can score too. The winger had 28 points in 67 games last year in third-line minutes.
Admittedly, this isn’t a perfect trade by any means. Still, looking at some of the other teams interested, none really make much sense. Sure, the Bruins would love to have him, and he’d be a good fit, but what exactly are they going to give up to make it worth the Blue Jackets while? The Kings? The Ducks? Why would Dubois want to go there? Both of those teams are years away from contending and aren’t exactly crazy hockey cities. A trade to the Habs would make sense due to them being the Habs and him being French-Canadian. But they are already loaded down the middle and would supposedly need to give up, not one, but both of Nick Suzuki and Jesper Kotkenaimi to get a deal done. If the Wild are serious about turning their team into a contender, this is the type of move you make.
Laine finds a home with Finnish Friends
It’s been made clear that if the Jets move Patrik Laine, it’ll be for a defenceman. Brett Pesce is more than just a defenceman, he’s a damn good one, and he shoots right. Pesce had a weird year last season. He flipped from good defensive defencemen with limited offensive ability to a player who takes a lot of chances and has good possession stats but struggled in his own zone. Here is Brett Pesce’s 3-year RAPM chat from 2016-2019,
and here is his chart from last year.
Either way, the Jets are getting a good player here, one that is a significant upgrade over whatever is on their blueline now. A top four of Ville Heinola, Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk and Brett Pesce is fun and exciting! Patrik Laine does the hardest thing to do in the NHL very well, score goals. Laine is 5th in the league in even-strength goals since his debut in 2016, and he can get easy goals due to how incredible his shot is. This ability makes him worth more than a regular winger who puts up 60-70 points a year, so the Hurricanes will also need to give up a depth piece in Martinook and a pick.
If you didn’t know, Laine is good friends with fellow Fins, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Tervainen, who both play on the Canes.
Go back and look at some 2016 World Junior highlights to see Aho and Laine’s chemistry; it’s off the charts. Adding Laine would arguably give the Canes the most dangerous top 6 in the league and some much-needed firepower. He also aligns with the Canes youth movement, and although losing Pesce would hurt, there is depth there. Carolina has the best pairing in the league in Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin, and their best prospect is defensemen Jake Bean. He will be with the big club to start the year. In terms of fit and situation, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better spot. Rod Brind’amour would be a great coach to help mould Laine’s all-around game and get him to buy into the Canes culture. Laine is going to get traded at some point and if the Jets don’t get a top 4 defencemen for him they’re going to be in trouble.