Before I get started, I want to apologize for my hiatus as of late. Some personal matters have been going on, and our blogging software literally didn’t work for me for at least a week. Anyway, I’m back and here talk about the rumors that the Flyers are in talks with Winnipeg to acquire bonafide sniper Patrik Laine. The short answer to this question is…I’m not sure and let me tell you why.
Let’s start with why they should, if you forget the logistics. Chuck Fletcher has already said he doesn’t plan on making any big moves this offseason. That being said, it’d be a HUGE mistake to not at least consider pursuing Patrik Laine. Yes, we’ve heard the rumors that the Flyers have been asking Winnipeg about him, but it’s impossible to gauge the intensity of these talks. Some people say heavily, some people say just light inquiries. I’m not sure what to believe but getting Laine would be a big boost for a team in need of additional goal scoring.
It doesn’t take a great hockey mind to know the Flyers sometimes struggle to score goals. The playoffs showcased the lack of a true sniper, and now there’s one on the market. I know he can be streaky at times, but you can expect Laine to score around 30 goals a year. Even though this was the first year since 2014-15 there was no 30-goal scorer for the Flyers, it feels like an eternity. Giroux certainly isn’t at that level anymore. Konecny probably could’ve gotten there this season if not for COVID, but his big fat 0 in goals during the playoffs has me nervous. Lastly, Couturier definitely can get there again, but the reliance on him being a Selke caliber two-way center can easily hinder his ability to put the puck in the net. Laine can fit in anywhere in the top-6, and the potential for him to return to the 40-goal territory is incredibly tempting.
Now come the logistics, which makes this incredibly difficult. The Jets are looking for a 2nd line center to give them a 1-2 punch with Scheifele. The problem that poses for the Flyers is that they don’t exactly have a center that fits that mold whom they’d be willing to trade. In theory, they could include Morgan Frost, one of their best prospects, but he’s not quite NHL ready and the Jets need a center for right now. The Flyers’ best chance to get Laine would be to include one of their top-4 defensemen, a pick, and at least a center prospect. I want to say perhaps Travis Sanheim, Frost, and a 2nd round pick, but I’m not sure that’s enough value. I’m worried about making the 2nd a 1st, but that might be what it takes, and we haven’t even gotten to the extension part yet
Laine is about to be on the last year of his 2-year bridge deal paying him an AAV of $6.75M, and the man wants to make BANK. He and his agent are likely asking for something long term paying him over $8M/year, probably more. Per CapFriendly, the Flyers have $5.685M in space right now. Trading Sanheim would give them an additional $3.25M, so long as they don’t retain any salary, which would give them enough to take on Laine’s current contract. After this upcoming year, the Flyers are FINALLY free from Andrew MacDonald’s contract, as they won’t have any dead cap due to his buyout. They also won’t be dealing with David Schlemko’s buyout either, and all together have an additional $2.52M in space. All together, that leaves the Flyers with $11.46M in space heading into 2021-22. Unfortunately, that doesn’t consider re-signing any other players. Signing Laine to a contract he wants could potentially cripple the Flyers’ financially, and they would give up one of their better defensemen and a future top-6 forward as Giroux continues to get older. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if you really want to go that hard at trying to win now while sacrificing the future.
To be completely honest, it’s tough for me to see a situation where the Flyers get Laine and it works out exactly the way we hope. He can easily not perform the way the Flyers need him to, and then they have a bunch of money wrapped up in a guy who isn’t worth it. Plus, you’d be sacrificing too much of your future to justify it. If the Flyers were built like the Bruins or Avalanche and were perhaps just one piece away, then maybe. Unfortunately, there’s still a little left to be desired out of this team. To sum it all up, I’m going to channel my inner Mark Cuban and say I’m out.
So there it is, I just don’t think the positives of acquiring Laine outweigh the negatives associated with the price of getting him. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this so let us know on Twitter and Instagram what you think. Do the Flyers really need Laine?