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Patrik Laine, Blue Jackets Agree to 4-Year, $34.8M Contract in NHL Free Agency

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 22, 2022

Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets traded for forward Patrik Laine during the 2020-21 campaign and made sure they kept him for more than just the remainder that season and the next one.

Columbus and Laine have agreed to terms on a four-year, $34.8 million contract extension through the 2025-26 season, the franchise announced Friday. The pact is worth $8.7 million annually.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement:

"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. 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 right wing was a restricted free agent after the 2021-22 season ended.

Columbus acquired Laine and Jack Roslovic in a blockbuster trade in January 2021. It sent the Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-round pick in the 2022 draft for the two forwards.

Not only does bringing Laine back make it more likely that the trade is seen as a success for the Blue Jackets, but it also helps reverse a troubling trend recently.

Columbus had a reputation under former head coach John Tortorella that it was unable to re-sign its marquee players. Most notably, Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Duchene all left after the team's 2019 playoff run in which it swept the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning and before losing to the Boston Bruins in a tightly contested second-round series that went six games.

There was also some apparent tension between coach and player with Dubois before Columbus traded the forward.

However, it is a new era for the Blue Jackets after they parted ways with Tortorella following the 2020-21 campaign, which was his sixth with the organization. They made the playoffs four straight years during his tenure but were just 18-26-12 in his last season and last place in the Central Division.

Laine had just 21 points in 45 games in his first season with Columbus and posted a career-worst plus-minus of minus-29.

However, he bounced back some in 2021-22 with 26 goals and 30 assists for 56 points in 56 games.

The No. 2 overall pick of the 2016 draft will look to remain an impact player with this new deal. He wasted no time making an impression with 64 points in 73 games as a rookie. The 2017 All-Star selection posted 70 points in his second season, 50 points in his third and 63 points in his fourth.

Laine is known for his powerful one-timer and is someone who can score on the power play, draw attention to set up others and anchor the offense for stretches.

The Finn is just 24 years old and figures to be a key offensive contributor for Columbus with his new contract.

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