When talking to reporters last week, Cheveldayoff was asked once again if the Stastny deal could have changed things on the Laine front and his answer was a tad curious.
“As a manager here it’s my job to continue to look at all things,” said Cheveldayoff. “Addressing individual player speculation with respect to trades is just something I don’t do. If there’s opportunities to make our team better, it’s my obligation to continue to look at them.”
In some ways, Cheveldayoff was staying true to his mantra, since he’s not in the business of discussing rumours.
But by not dismissing the speculation as it relates to Laine, the message to other managers seemed to be that offers were still being accepted — even if there was no for sale sign sitting out on the front lawn.
With that in mind, here are six teams with the assets required to acquire Laine and probable interest (please don’t confuse these suggestions with actual trade proposals and remember the Jets could also be looking at draft picks and prospects in a potential):
Potential targets: D Aaron Ekblad, LW Jonathan Huberdeau, D MacKenzie Weegar, C Noel Acciari, C Henrik Borgstrom
Why it makes sense: New GM Bill Zito is looking to put his stamp on the team and with top centre Aleksander Barkov two years away from unrestricted free agency, what better way to entice him to stick around than acquire his close friend Laine? Ekblad is a rock on defence, but the Panthers have more than $25 million invested on the back end and still need to sign Weegar. Ekblad played with Jets centre Mark Scheifele on the Barrie Colts in the OHL, his full no-movement clause doesn’t kick in until the 2021 off-season and he’s under contract for five more seasons — bringing cost certainty. Huberdeau is a highly productive player with three years left but has a full no-movement clause until next off-season.
Potential targets: RW Sam Reinhart, D Rasmus Ristolainen, D Brandon Montour, D Henri Jokiharu, RW Jack Quinn
Why it makes sense: New GM Kevyn Adams made a one-year commitment to left-winger Taylor Hall in an effort to enhance the talent around captain Jack Eichel. Can you imagine a top line with Laine on the right side and the type of damage that trio might be able to inflict? Signing Hall and Laine both to long-term deals could be problematic, but the Sabres have inquired about both Ehlers and Laine before, so it would surprise no one if they took another swing here.
Potential targets: D Brett Pesce, D Jake Gardiner, LW/RW Teuvo Teravainen, C Martin Necas, RW Seth Jarvis
Why it makes sense: The Hurricanes are a team on the rise and feature plenty of young talent. Top centre Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov are emerging superstars and pairing them with someone like Laine could put this group over the top. They’ve already got more than $25 million invested on the blue line (not including a new deal required for Haydn Fleury) and prospect Jake Bean is probably ready to graduate to the NHL).
Potential targets: RW Travis Konecny, D Travis Sanheim, C Nolan Patrick, C Morgan Frost, D Samuel Morin
Why it makes sense: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher saw plenty of Laine during his time running the Minnesota Wild and you can be sure he would enjoy seeing him alongside Sean Couturier on the top line and providing a shooting weapon for the power play. The Jets were high on Konecny during his draft year and he could help offset the loss of Laine’s offence.
Potential targets: D Hampus Lindholm D Josh Manson, RW Rikard Rakell, C Trevor Zegras, D Jamie Drysdale
Why it makes sense: The thought of the Jets shipping another Finnish star to the Ducks rips the Band-Aid of the Selanne wound that never healed for some fans. The Ducks have a bunch of young talent in the organisation, but would benefit from a consistent scorer like Laine who would help expedite the rebuild. Lindholm and Manson are under contract for two more seasons and would provide some cost certainty, though Manson has a modified no-trade clause.
New York Islanders
Potential targets: C Brock Nelson, LW Josh Bailey, D Ryan Pulock, D Adam Pelech, D Noah Dobson
Why it makes sense: The Islanders are already facing some cap concerns and need to get top centre Mathew Barzal (among other RFAs) signed, but it would be a full stealth move by Lou Lamoriello to find a way to get Barzal an elite sniper to play with him and captain Anders Lee. Nelson is the only player on the list that has trade protection currently.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Potential targets: D Zach Werenski, RW Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW Cam Atkinson, C Liam Foudy
Why it makes sense: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen made several moves to clear up cap space leading into free agency and didn’t land any of the big fish. While a good chunk of that money will go to a new long-term deal for Pierre-Luc Dubois, you can bet the Blue Jackets would love to have Laine riding shotgun with him for years to come. Of course, the Jets would prefer to get Seth Jones in a deal for Laine and that’s the quality of player they would be aiming for, but it’s more likely Werenski would be considered by the Blue Jackets — even if they would prefer not to part with him either.