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Waddell: Blue Jackets eye 'hockey trade' to move Laine


Columbus Blue Jackets president and general manager Don Waddell said Thursday the team is eyeing a hockey trade as they look to move winger Patrik Laine.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported earlier this month that the Blue Jackets and Laine had mutually agreed to look for a trade to part ways.

"You know, our hope is that we wouldn't have to hold money," he said. "We want to make a hockey trade if we can and certainly exhaust every opportunity and every team that potentially has interest."

Waddell also noted that there's a chance Laine won't be moved at all this off-season.

"If the options are limited or there's no options that make any sense, then we'll have to deal with that," Waddell said.

Potentially moving the winger is yet another item on the early to-do list for Waddell, who fired head coach Pascal Vincent on Monday after being hired the club in late May. Waddell said Thursday he has list of 12 potential coaches, but only plans to interview three or four options, with a focus on adding a veteran bench boss.

Laine finished the season with six goals and nine points in 18 games, having entered the player assistance program in January while he was still recovering from a clavicle fracture suffered a month earlier.

The 26-year-old winger is third-highest paid player on the Blue Jackets, with only Johnny Gaudreau ($9.75 million) and Zach Werenski ($9.58 million) carrying higher cap hits on the team.

"That’s the goal from everyone involved," LeBrun explained of a potential trade last week on Insider Trading. "We know that Patrik Laine entered the player assistance program, had the courage to seek help, and he’s still in the program right now. So, we have to consider that factor, but he would like to move on.

"His agent has had conversations with the Blue Jackets about it, and both sides are going to work together to try and get that done. He wants a fresh start; it hasn’t been a good time in Columbus. Two more years at $8.7 million a year, let’s see how big that market is, but we know what the potential is."

Selected second overall in 2016 by the Winnipeg Jets, Laine has been unable to replicate the success he had early in his career since being traded to Columbus in 2020. After scoring 28 or more goals - including a career-high 44 goals in 2017-18 - in each of his first four seasons, Laine has failed to top 26 with the Blue Jackets while dealing with various injuries. 

He had 22 goals and 52 points in 55 games in 2022-23 with the Blue Jackets, who have missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons.