Would Patrik Laine make sense for the Rangers?

As the hunt for a winger to play with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider continues, assuming they stay together of course, an interesting name has popped into the rumor mill. Patrik Laine is rumored to be working on a trade with Columbus for a fresh start. The first big name winger to pop into the trade rumor mill, does Patrik Laine make sense for the Rangers? The answer isn’t that clear.

To point out the obvious, Chris Drury is probably doing his due diligence on the Finnish winger. Laine, who played just 18 games before entering the NHLPA Player Assistance Program, put up a line of 6-3-9 in those 18 games. There is no word why he entered the program, and we are not speculating or entertaining any speculation here. That’s a personal matter to him. He appears to be ready to move on with his fresh start.

Before this season, Laine had put up at least 20 goals and 50 points in all seasons except the Covid shortened 2020-2021 season. Laine appears to have rounded out his game in Columbus, sacrificing some points for a more well rounded game.

Laine is more of a shooter and a finisher than he is a play driver, but those aspects of his game are certainly trending in the right direction. Perhaps most importantly are his zone entry and overall in-zone offense numbers. He’s very high in driving offensive zone offense and time, plus is adept at gaining the zone with possession. These are all areas where the Rangers struggled.

Given how bad Columbus has been in his tenure, Laine’s numbers trending up despite a bad team is a positive sign. That said, he still has that reputation of being an empty calorie goal scorer, something the Rangers certainly don’t need. Laine has only had one serious playoff run, and that was back in 2017-2018 where he put up 5 goals and 12 points in 17 games for Winnipeg. Not surprisingly, that was also the best statistical season of his career.

The risks with Laine are very clear. He can revert back to being an empty calorie goal scorer, but that may be less of a risk in a more structured system from Peter Laviolette. The bigger concern would be acquisition cost and contract. Laine has 2 years at $8.7 million remaining, something the Rangers can’t afford just yet, and the trade cost may be substantial.

The original Laine trade from Winnipeg to Columbus included Jack Roslovic in exchange for Pierre-Luc Dubois. Obviously that won’t be the trade cost this time. There really isn’t a precedent for a trade like this, so we are all just spitballing at this point.

Looking at Columbus’ roster, they need more high end skill up front and could probably use another steady defensive presence on the blue line. Naturally Ryan Lindgren comes to mind, but honestly would you give up Lindgren for a what-if in Laine? Me neither.

So Columbus may need to take futures from the Rangers to facilitate a Patrik Laine trade. Naturally, the Rangers don’t have much in terms of futures after 3 straight trade deadlines trading away their lower end prospects and higher draft picks. The Blueshirts have just two picks in rounds 2-4 over the next three seasons, but they do have all three of their 1st round picks.

Prospects like Adam Edstrom don’t carry much value, ditto aging-out prospects like Matt Robertson. Essentially, the Rangers would be dealing from 1st round picks, late round picks, and C-grade prospects. It’s an unlikely match between the two clubs, especially with Columbus probably retaining on the contract.

John Davidson knows the Rangers very well and will know what he wants. There’s a chance he could begin and end the conversation with Braden Schneider. It seems unlikely the Rangers would part ways with Schneider for a what-if, given his cost controlled nature on the second pair.

If there’s a deal to be made, Drury and JD will figure it out. As fans, we only see what’s going on in a vacuum, so we won’t necessarily put together the full offseason plan just yet. Laine would certainly be a good gamble for the Rangers, but cost and contract may be prohibitive.

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