It's a done deal.
After months of negotiations – and a headline-grabbing free agent signing in Johnny Gaudreau – the Columbus Blue Jackets have signed star forward Patrik Laine to a new contract.
Laine, who became a restricted free agent earlier this month, has a four-year deal worth $8.7 million per season. The Blue Jackets made the official announcement on Friday afternoon.
"One of our priorities this summer was signing Patrik Laine to a contract extension. He is a special player, one of the truly elite goal scorers in the National Hockey League, and he has fit in extremely well with our group since his arrival," said GM Jarmo Kekalainen. "He is an integral part of the team we are building in Columbus, and we couldn't be happier that he will continue to be a Blue Jacket for the foreseeable future."
The 24-year-old saw his Blue Jackets career take a big step forward in 2021-22 under new head coach Brad Larsen. Playing primarily with Jake Voracek and a cast of centers, Laine scored 26 goals in 56 games and became a go-to player on the power play and in overtime. He played last season under his qualifying offer of $7.5 million, while agent Andy Scott and the Blue Jackets (Kekalainen and assistant GM Josh Flynn) negotiated a long-term deal to keep Laine in Columbus.
"I've been around a few Hall of Famers on a team in Colorado," Larsen said of his days with the Avalanche. "(Laine's) got some confidence with the puck. He wants to shoot the puck. A guy with a shot like that...it's scary for goalies. We need it. And it's great to see him filling (that) role here."
While it feels like Laine has been in the NHL forever, he's still only 24 years and scratching the surface of the player he can be. The Blue Jackets have visions of a line with Gaudreau on the left side and Laine on the right – maybe Boone Jenner or Cole Sillinger at center? – forming one of the more formidable duos in the division.
Prior to his arrival in Columbus from Winnipeg, Laine was one of the premier scorers in the NHL. He burst on to the scene with 36 goals during his rookie campaign in 2016-17 and bagged 44 goals the following season. Early in the NHL's COVID-shortened 2021 season, he was dealt to the Blue Jackets along with Jack Roslovic in a deal for Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Laine's 2021-22 season was impressive on multiple levels, and the young Finn also had to deal with the unexpected loss of his father, Harri, in November. He grew closer to his Blue Jackets teammates this season after a tough COVID year of isolation and limited interaction outside the rink, and felt fortunate to land in Columbus – a place he wanted to call home for the long term.
"That's definitely a part of it, a big part of what I love about this team," he said after the season. "It's like a big family, family atmosphere, everybody cares about each other. That's how it should be."
Now, Columbus is officially home.