Skip to content
Fetching Patrik Laine would tick all the boxes on the Kent Hughes form
Credit: Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Most insiders have been saying it for a few weeks now: the Habs’ priority this summer is to find talent AND muscle up front. Brian Wilde said it on TSN… David Pagnotta wrote it on The 4th Period

Darren Dreger, Frank Seravalli, Elliotte Friedman: they’ve all mentioned on at least one occasion recently that the Habs are looking for offensive talent right now, and that they’re ready to move to get it. We’re just about to turn the corner on this first phase of Montreal’s reconstruction…

Pagnotta went so far as to mention that it wasn’t at center that Kent Hughes was currently shopping for reinforcements, while Wilde confided that what was at the top of the Montreal GM’s shopping list was a winger to complement Kirby Dach.

Yesterday, Pierre LeBrun mentioned the possibility of the Habs offering unrestricted free agents a short-term contract (two or three years) at a higher-than-market salary. In short, what this means is that the Habs would currently be willing to pay more (in dollars) than the market value of a good player with some experience… if only for two or three seasons.

And in Ohio, they’re trying to accommodate Patrik Laine, who has reportedly asked the Blue Jackets to trade him. Remember: in the new NHL, it’s usually in June that these big transactions take place…

I don’t know about you, but I like connecting dots. And this morning, what it tells me is that acquiring Patrik Laine (at a good price) would be exactly what the Habs are trying to do right now. It would tick all the boxes, as the other guy would say.

Laine is a 26-year-old, 6’5, 215-pound winger (right-handed, who prefers to play left). He was selected second overall in 2016.

He knows how to score goals, something the Habs are currently lacking, and has collected around a point per game in five of his eight NHL seasons.

(Credit: HockeyDB)

But since he hasn’t played more than 56 games in the same season since COVID, didn’t produce offensively last year, has a reputation for not defending (and not always giving his all on the ice) and will be returning from a stint in the NHL’s assistance program, he won’t cost an arm and a leg (in assets) to acquire.

Laine will earn an average annual salary of $8.7 million (actual $9.1 million) over the next two campaigns, before becoming eligible for full autonomy. And the rumours about his dubious attitude in Winnipeg turned out to have more to do with the behaviour of certain veterans than with Laine himself…

Probably a young defenseman with depth and/or a pick (not in the first round) could be enough to get him out of Columbus, if the Blue Jackets aren’t required to withhold salary.

Giving a little (in assets) to get hold of Laine is almost like offering an overpriced two-year contract to a free agent with great offensive potential, isn’t it?

Not to mention that we’ve always loved redemption stories in Montreal…

A few problems ahead?
Two obstacles could stand in the way of the Canadiens in the Laine file.

1. The Finnish forward has a no-trade clause on which he annually writes the names of 10 teams to which he does not wish to be traded. We don’t know if the Habs are among them, but many players simply don’t want to play in Canada any more (although the City of Montreal – the Habs organization – has a good reputation throughout the NHL).

Reminder: Laine played in Manitoba for several years, before moving south of the border.

2. The Blue Jackets’ new GM is Don Waddell… and he’s the man the Habs had to deal with when they made hostile offers to Sebastian Aho and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

That said, I’m pretty sure that the conflict is between the Habs and the Hurricanes’ owner (Tom Dundon), not their former GM… who would look very unprofessional if he told his new organization: “I’m not dealing with the Montreal Canadiens because of what they did to my old organization.”

It’s with Martin Necas that these old hostile offers could bring down a potential deal, rather than with Patrik Laine.

Imagine for a moment the following formation on Montreal’s top two threes:

Slafkovsky – Suzuki – Caufield
Laine – Dach – Anderson/Newhook/Armia

Armia, I put him there because he’s Finnish and could connect with Laine…

And in a year’s time, we could have Cayden Lindstrom, Tij Iginla or Ivan Demidov to complete the second line. Wouldn’t we start talking?


– The Maple Leafs need to take a cue from the Panthers.

– Like it or not?

More Content