The Columbus Blue Jackets have completed an impressive bit of addition-by-subtraction, adding top-line scoring by subtracting their biggest migraine.
With Saturday morning's acquisition of Patrik Laine (and Jack Roslovic) from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for disgruntled center Pierre-Luc Dubois (and a 3rd round pick in 2022), the Blue Jackets have added their best offensive threat to the lineup since Artemi Panarin departed for the New York Rangers in 2019.
Laine is just 22 years old, and much like Dubois was, is a restricted free agent. He is in the final year of a two-year contract, and makes $6.75 million this season. Columbus will likely look to sign him to a long-term deal as soon as possible.
Unlike Dubois, however, Laine is an established star and a serious threat to score any time he's on the ice. He scored 36 goals in his rookie year, and followed that up with 44 in his sophomore season. In the last two seasons, the winger scored 30 and 28 goals, respectively, with the latter being in 68 games due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
All of those figures are higher than Dubois' best season, when he scored 27 goals in the 2018-19 season.
Look for Laine to slot in as a top line winger as soon as he available to play with the team. He'll draw immediate attention from top defensemen on a consistent basis, and this impact will give players like Oliver Bjorkstrand, Cam Atkinson, and Alexandre Texier plenty of scoring opportunities that they were not previously afforded.
For his career, Laine has 140 goals, 110 assists, and 250 points in just 306 games. An astounding 52 of those goals have come on the power play, another area that the Blue Jackets significantly bolster with the trade and one that they'll absolutely need to be strong for any hope of a 5th consecutive postseason apperance.
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was very interested in drafting Laine with the 3rd overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, but "settled" for Dubois when the Jets scooped Laine up at #2.
Now, nearly a half decade later, Kekalainen has the guy he wanted all along.