A star wants to be a part of the Columbus Blue Jackets' future. How often have we heard this sentiment?
This past weekend featured the Blue Jackets holding exit interviews on Saturday and then players meeting with the media.
Patrik Laine was among those talking about the 2021-22 regular season that just ended and topics included what's on tap for the coming weeks and months ahead, this past season in Columbus, and more including what's ahead for the new-look franchise with future talent already arriving and leaving a mark.
An RFA now, Patrik Laine is asked about his contract situation: I dont think it should be an issue. Theyve expressed they want me here. Ive said the same thing. The feeling is mutual. Just figure out the term and money and all that and I think we should be fine. #CBJ— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) April 30, 2022
Among those questions for Laine, an RFA, no doubt had to do with his next contract and his desire to remain a part of the club.
"I don't think it should be an issue," Laine said. "(Blue Jackets' management) have expressed they want me here. I've said the same thing so the feeling's mutual. Just figure out the term and the money and I think we should be fine."
As we've seen in the past in Columbus, supreme talent has often opted to join on elsewhere once they've hit the open market as UFA. Currently, Laine will be a UFA following the 2022-23 season, but it sounds like he prefers for Columbus to remain his home for quite a while.
"We have a great group of guys," Laine said. "Guys I got to be really close with and excited about the youth we have, and opportunities we're going to have in a couple years.
"(I) definitely want to be a part of it and playing here, playing in front of these great fans. Love the city and I love everything about being here so it's just that simple."
#CBJ F Patrik Laine said his injury was nothing big and will be fine in a few weeks. Hes unsure at this point if hell play in World Championships On contract. I dont think itll be a issue.Figure out the money and all that, well be fine.— Dave Maetzold (@DMaetzMedia) April 30, 2022
It certainly had to feel nice to get back to a normal everyday routine, and a regular 82-game season for the first time since 2018-19. Laine came into this past season looking to rebound after a tough start in Columbus last year, following a trade from the Winnipeg Jets, the only franchise and NHL city he had familiarity with.
Laine did have to overcome adversities during the past season dealing with injury and the loss of his father but his teammates' support helped him get through.
"It's been a pleasure coming to the rink every day and everybody's been helpful with all that I had this year," Laine said. "Just always wanted to come back as soon as possible to these guys. They made it a lot easier for me so I'll always be thankful for everyone here.
"The big part, what I love about this team, it's like a big family atmosphere, everybody cares about each other, and that's how it should be."
The big question on everyone's mind is how soon the Blue Jackets will be competing as an upper-echelon team.
"We got (Cole Sillinger), and (Kent Johnson), and these guys, they're 18, 19 years old, and I've seen it," Laine said.
"When those guys get to 20, 21, 22, they're going to be so much better than this year. Even though they had a really good season, especially (Sillinger), he was really good already this year as an 18-year-old so I can't even imagine how much better he's going to be in two or three years.
"Same with these other guys. Just super excited to see those guys play and play with them and work with them along the way. That's what I'm really excited about."
Remember the thought after last season that perhaps Laine and head coach Brad Larsen clashed?
That doesn't appear to be an issue.
"(Larsen) would give a little more freedom to those offensive guys who can create goals and create offense," Laine said. "It was good for me. I really like how he handled the whole team.
"I was really happy playing for (Larsen) and hopefully play for him in the future, too."
Laine finished third on the club with 56 points, second with 26 goals, and fourth with 30 assists. It's a good bet he would have led in all three categories if he didn't miss 26 games, and he was still a point per game player for the first time in his career.
The offensive reliance is something the Blue Jackets need but if you ask Laine, accomplishing point per game status is not something he cares about.
"Individual stuff doesn't really matter since it's a team sport, we're here to win," Laine said. "It doesn't really matter...well, it's always fun to get on the board and everybody's expecting it when you're making a lot of money and you're expected to score so that's what I'm thinking."
Time will tell when the next piece drops and we hear any details about contract term and length. Laine recently spoke about his excitement for the 2022 Global Series in Finland between the Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche, and he mentioned then, his desire to be with the club and a part of that series.
John Davidson, with about as definitive of a line as you'll hear to this point without Laine being signed:— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) May 3, 2022
"We're all-in. (Laine) is all-in. And he's going to be part of our future." #CBJ
It's tough to pinpoint an exact number on a potential next contract. At any rate, for a change, it all certainly sounds optimistic.