Cheveldayoff on expectations for Laine, how Jets will handle taxi squad
Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff expects star winger Patrik Laine to have one of the best seasons of his career in 2020-21.
"I assume he’s probably going to have one of the best years of his career given the group of players that we have," said Cheveldayoff in a Zoom media conference call on Tuesday. "The professionalism that is there, the maturity level that all players gain year over year over year I think just helps us move forward."
The 22-year-old Laine had 28 goals, 35 assists and 63 points in 68 games with the Jets last season. In the NHL's Return to Play, he appeared in one game before sitting out with a wrist injury as Winnipeg was eliminated in the play-in round by the Calgary Flames.
However, Laine's name has continued to swirl in trade rumours, with his representatives suggesting in October that perhaps a trade would be beneficial for both sides. Cheveldayoff says he hasn't spoken to Laine since he has returned to Winnipeg ahead of the 2020-21 season but has been in constant contact with the Finnish winger's representatives throughout the off-season.
"I think everybody is a professional," said Cheveldayoff. "Certainly, I was a professional trying to do my job this summer in looking at all the different options to improve our team and I think that we’ve have done that."
During the off-season, the Jets re-acquired centre Paul Stastny from the Vegas Golden Knights. Stastny played 19 regular season games with the Jets in 2017-18 and recorded 15 points in 17 playoff games as the Jets reached the Western Conference final.
"We think we've got one of the better, if not best top sixes in the National Hockey League," Cheveldayoff said. "We’re excited about having the ability down the middle with [Mark] Scheifele and Stastny on our top six with the quality of wingers like Patrik, ‘Wheels’ [Blake Wheeler] and Nik Ehlers and Kyle Connor. I think there’s lots of different combinations that can be very, very dynamic."