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Speculation: Does Patrik Laine to the Sharks Make Sense?



Credit: NHL

What does Winnipeg want for Patrik Laine?

While it’s considered a “longshot” that the Jets would trade a 22-year-old winger who’s scored 138 goals in his first four NHL seasons, insiders from Pierre LeBrun to Elliotte Friedman are taking the rumor seriously.

Per Friedman on Saturday, “I just think everybody’s looking at the situation and saying, what if our way to solve the problem is, can we use Patrik Laine to find a No. 2 center or a right-hand shot defenceman?”

The problem for the Peg? Laine will be an RFA after next year. Is he a player that you want to give franchise money to? Or should you trade him now and get maximum value?

Enter: The San Jose Sharks?

I caution that this is pure speculation on my part — we talked about it during this morning’s podcast at the 11-minute mark. There’s lots of Laine chatter out there, but I haven’t seen or heard San Jose talked about, while LeBrun offered up Columbus or Carolina as sensible destinations last Thursday.

But the Sharks actually have pieces that should appeal to the Jets.

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Looking over Winnipeg, it appears that they want to win now but with reasonably-priced cost-certain players (doesn’t everybody). They’re loaded with a deep group of forwards in or around their primes and the incumbent Vezina Trophy winner. They could use support up the middle after Mark Scheifele and elite help on the blueline.

Meanwhile, in terms of pure talent — let’s take age and contract out of the equation for the moment — centers Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture, right-handed defensemen Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson should be appealing to the Jets.

Of course, age and especially cap hit can’t be ignored in the salary cap era. Are any of these contracts at all appealing?

AgeContract Years RemainingCap Hit
Tomas Hertl2625.625
Logan Couture3178
Brent Burns3558
Erik Karlsson30711.5

Any reasonable offer for Laine would have to begin with Hertl, I think. Great contract, in his prime, and can play in any situation. And though he becomes a UFA just one year after Laine’s current deal expires, Hertl should come in at a lower number than Laine. Pure goal scorers, even those who are somewhat one-dimensional like Laine is, usually make more money than well-rounded forwards like Hertl.

So we can skip Couture to the back-end. Karlsson and Burns, of course, share the same problem: They’re 30-plus and have long, undesirable contracts. On the other hand, they also offer the same allure: They were absolutely world-class game-changers not that long ago.

We also have to note: Karlsson has a No Movement Clause, while Burns has a three-team Trade Clause, meaning there are three teams of his choice that the Sharks can trade him too. We’re obviously assuming that they would be open to a move to Manitoba. This is just a reminder that this is all speculation about a hypothetical.

Anyway, I’ve talked with scouts who believe Burns’s contract is more tradeable than Karlsson’s. So let’s add him to the package.

That said, Burns’s age and money remaining can’t be all that appealing. So is Hertl and Burns for Laine dead before take-off?

The San Jose Sharks have one more card to play in this hypothetical: They can offer to retain up to 50 percent of Burns’s salary and cap hit.

So let’s say the Sharks offer to retain 25 percent ($2 million cap hit) of Burns’s contract. That’s a five-year commitment in a who-knows-how-long flat cap era — it’s not to be taken lightly.

Hertl, Burns, and 25 percent of Burns’s contract retained for Laine — I actually think that makes Winnipeg better, at least for a couple years, but it doesn’t necessarily make San Jose better right now. On the other hand, it’s a dicey long-term play for the Jets unless Burns takes a page out of Zdeno Chara’s book and produces into 40.

That’s two good-to-great players out the door for one admittedly potential superstar sniper — that’s a lot for a San Jose Sharks squad which probably has too many holes in the line-up to create more. For the Jets, they can probably get a better offer, not necessarily in terms of talent, but younger players with more appealing contracts.

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