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Patrik Laine Expresses Frustrations in Winnipeg, Wants to Play on Top Line


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Still unsigned and currently skating with SC Bern as contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets continue, RFA Patrik Laine indicated on Tuesday that there’s more to his current negotiations than just money and term.


“In contract negotiations, one thing always is who you are playing with,” Laine told Iltalehti writer Pekka Jalonen in Finnish, as translated by Jalonen. “With the merits I have, somewhere else I’d have an opportunity to play with the best players. Everyone who understands hockey should know that.”


Those merits Laine’s referencing have put him in the Jets’ top three in goal-scoring in each of his three years with the club. He led Winnipeg in goals (36) as a rookie in 2016-17 and again as a sophomore (44) in 2017-18. A 30-goal campaign in 2018-19 ranked him third behind Mark Scheifele and fellow RFA Kyle Connor, who excelled while skating alongside Scheifele and Blake Wheeler last season.


“There’s top lines and then there’s our line,” Laine said. “I play whoever I’m told to play with.”






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2. The dynamic between the Jets and Laine is something. Agent Mike Liut went on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver on Wednesday, indicating negotiations are not close. When Chris Johnston interviewed Laine last month in Finland, the winger said there had been almost no contract talk at all. Curious about that, I tried to find out as much as I could, and it appears the Jets used much of their dialogue making sure Laine was comfortable in the organization, understanding that he was valued there. They are fulfilling that promise. Captain Blake Wheeler has bent over backwards to make it very clear there will be changes, and they didn’t overreact after Laine’s overseas comments about not playing on the first line.


People who know Laine say he’s not mean-spirited, but is blunt and, if asked a question, will give you an answer. (I’m sure the Jets would prefer he stop giving interviews.) In the aftermath of the Byfuglien news, there was plenty of debate about trading him for a defenceman, but that’s a hard deal to win. He’s going to figure it out at some point.


As for the contract, Laine’s going to want to push the envelope for two or three years. In 2016, Nikita Kucherov signed for three years and $4.77-million AAV. This week, Brock Boeser got $5.875-million for the same term. What’s Laine thinking? Nothing under $6 million, for sure.



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