TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie said Monday that new deals for restricted free agents Patrik Laine, Mikko Rantanen and Matthew Tkachuk don't appear “close at all,” and, according to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun, teams are beginning to take special interest in Laine's situation.
LeBrun added on Insider Trading that teams around the league have begun contacting the camp of the Winnipeg Jets winger.
"And the sense is when Laine, in his case, does sign with Winnipeg – if and when – that it’ll be a bridge deal. But in the meantime, we’re told that teams over the past week have checked in with Patrik Laine’s camp led by Mike Liut," LeBrun said. "And now, are they checking in because of a potential offer sheet or are they checking in because maybe they want to call Winnipeg and try and trade for Patrik Laine?
"I’m not saying either one is happening. I’m just saying teams are getting curious about that situation."
Laine, who is skating alongside Rantanen with Switzerland's SC Bern as he awaits a new contract, posted 30 goals and 50 points in 82 games last season.
The Jets suspended defenceman Dustin Byfuglien for cap purposes last week, leaving the team with $23 million in cap space – with Byfuglien's $7.6 million hit not counting against the cap – with Laine and Kyle Connor still in need of new deals.
"And for those reasons, the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets, Kevin Cheveldayoff, isn’t getting a lot of sleep these days," TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger said. "In addition to being stuck in the mud with his restricted free agents, he really doesn’t have a choice but to respectfully await a decision from a big player in Dustin Byfuglien. Now, Byfuglien is suspended and that may not change for a while. Termination of contract could be considered by the Winnipeg Jets but it’s very tricky and the belief is the National Hockey League would have to be involved to navigate through that.
"The Jets are talking to teams about potential trades, but with the Byfuglien situation still out there, it’s hard to do anything."
Winnipeg will open the regular season on Oct. 3 against the New York Rangers.