Forward Patrik Laine has signed a four-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The contract has an average annual value of $8.7 million. Laine was a restricted free agent this offseason.
After some early struggles with the Blue Jackets, Laine showed more of his old form and deft scoring touch in the 2021-22 season. The 24-year-old dealt with some injuries, but finished with 26 goals and 30 assists, averaging a point per game. When fully healthy Laine is a 30+ goal scorer and a first-line talent. The No. 2 pick in the 2016 Draft averaged 35 goals and 62 goals in his first four seasons with Winnipeg before he was traded to Columbus.
Laine signed a three-year entry level deal for $7.275 million after being drafted. He inked a two-year extension for $13.5 million in 2019 and added a one-year deal for $7.5 million for the 2021-22 season. He is a restricted free agent for the next two seasons.
The Blue Jackets may need to maneuver a bit on the salary cap. Columbus has $2.3 million before the Laine contract. Now, most of the contracts taking up cap space are either entry-level deals or two-way contracts. That should allow the Blue Jackets to send a few prospects down to the AHL or back to juniors in order to clear some cap. The Jackets could also do a few moves. One is off-loading Gustav Nyquist’s deal at $5.5 million this upcoming season.
Jakub Voracek is also owed $8.25 million over the next two seasons. That deal is almost impossible to move. Columbus could opt to buy out Voracek and eat his salary. The veteran is still a fringe top-six forward but is still grossly overpaid toward the end of his contract. Defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov has an expiring deal at $2.8 million that would provide a bit of cap relief. The Jackets will want to have a bit of wiggle room to make a deal at the deadline this upcoming season.