Winnipeg Jets send Patrik Laine to Columbus Blue Jackets for Pierre-Luc Dubois

WATCH: Winnipeg Jets send Patrik Laine to Columbus in swap for Pierre-Luc Dubois. Marek Tkach reports.

The Winnipeg Jets have swung a blockbuster trade with one of their franchise players — sending sniper Patrik Laine to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for centre Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The Jets are sending unsigned restricted free agent centre Jack Roslovic to his home state of Ohio in the deal, and will get a 2022 3rd round draft pick in return.

The Jets will also retain 26 per cent of Laine’s salary on the final year of his contract this season.

“Trading a player like Patty, he’s a great person, he has special abilities, you know it’s tough,” explained Jets’ General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.

“Pierre Luc-Dubois is a big hard two-way centreman that makes other people around him better and that’s an important factor if you’re trying to win.”

It brings to an end months of trade speculation on both sides of the deal, which for Columbus, culminated in Dubois’ benching during the second and third periods of Thursday’s loss to Tampa Bay.

Laine was added to the Jets’ Injured Reserve on Friday and had been deflecting questions about his future since arriving at training camp in late December.

When asked what led to the trade, head coach Paul Maurice hinted that the Finnish winger may have been unhappy about the team’s line combinations.

“Our driver and number one centre (Mark Scheifele) and Patrik, the hockey that they played together last year, it wasn’t a natural fit for them.

“That might be it when he looked at where he would end up and who he would play with,” says Maurice.

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Laine’s teammates were visible emotional during Saturday’s media availability in the hours following the trade.

“We were roommates for three years and really good friends for the last five years. This is tough. This is not much fun. He’s a guy that I’m for sure going to miss a lot.”

Jets captain Blake Wheeler went as far as partly blaming himself when asked what contributed to Laine being shipped to Columbus.

“I guess my instinct is to get frustrated and maybe not say anything, where as you know maybe if I could’ve communicated better maybe it would’ve made things better, but ultimately I don’t that would’ve happened,” said Wheeler.

The two players were forever linked, taken one after the other in the top three of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and now, they’ll be switching jerseys.

While it may take longer than that for Laine to be healthy enough to play for his new team, both players are guaranteed to miss two weeks of action, as per the NHL’s COVID-19 quarantine protocols.

Roslovic hasn’t appeared in a game this season as he’s still without a contract.

Below, we take a look at Laine’s legacy left behind in Winnipeg, as the franchise bids goodbye to a generational talent — and one of the purest goal-scorers the city has ever seen.

The draft

Laine’s journey with the Jets began on a cold April night in 2016, in a Sportsnet studio seen on the TV’s of fans across the country, during the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

Winnipeg had the seventh-best odds of selecting first overall at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft that June, but the team had a 15 per cent chance of landing in the top two.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had the best shot at landing presumptive first overall pick, American forward Auston Matthews — at 20 per cent.

The Columbus Blue Jackets had the fourth-best odds of picking first overall, and couldn’t pick any lower than seventh.

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Both the Blue Jackets and Jets moved up the list into the top three, with Columbus General Manager Jarmo Kekäläinen being the first of the three to be rewarded his team’s draft selection — third overall.

That left Jets’ General Manager Kevin Chevaldayoff and Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan on stage, and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly flipped over the card embossed with a black “1” to reveal the Maple Leafs logo.

The Leafs had the first overall selection for the first time since 1985, when they selected Wendel Clark, and the Jets had the second overall pick for the second time in franschise history — the other coming back in 2002 when the then-Atlanta Thrashers selected Finnish goaltender Kari Lehtonen.

Matthews and Laine were expected by most hockey insiders to be the first two picks — while Dubois, the top-ranked North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting, led a group of players that were shuffled around the top 10 picks by expert mock drafts.

On June 24, 2016, the Leafs, Jets and Blue Jackets made their picks — and Matthews, Laine and Dubois donned their new sweaters on-stage in Buffalo, NY for the first time.

Two of the top three selections from the 2016 NHL Draft will be swapping jerseys.

Two of the top three selections from the 2016 NHL Draft will be swapping jerseys.

THE CANADIAN PRESS / Nathan Denette

Laine 1, Matthews 0

It wouldn’t take long for the first two selections in the 2016 draft to face-off on the ice.

The Jets’ fourth game of the 2016-17 season came at home against the Maple Leafs, one of two meetings that year.

By the mid-way point in the game, the usually-boisterous crowd at the MTS Centre was sapped of its energy — the Maple Leafs had opened up a 4-0 lead, Matthews recording an assist.

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The Jets found the net before the end of the second period, but trailed 4-1 heading into the final frame.

Laine scored his second goal of the season just a minute into the third period — and after Mark Scheifele’s goal brought the Jets within one, the team was given a power-play late in regulation, when leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly was sent off for cross-checking.

It took Laine all of five seconds to score on that man-advantage, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and the game into overtime.

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers (27) and Patrik Laine (29) celebrate Patrik Laine's (29) game-winning goal and hat-trick during overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs in NHL action in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers (27) and Patrik Laine (29) celebrate Patrik Laine's (29) game-winning goal and hat-trick during overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs in NHL action in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.

THE CANADIAN PRESS / John Woods

He completed his first career hat-trick in overtime — taking round one, over the player selected one spot before him.

“Winnipeg is good”

With 44 goals in his sophomore NHL season, and 80 across his first two years, it was no surprise Laine endeared himself to Jets fans — but some asked if the reverse was true for the Finnish superstar.

He answered those questions in a 2018 article for the Player’s Tribune titled “Winnipeg Is Good” talking about living with his mother, playing video games on the road, and how things were going with his game, and the team.

“Yeah, things are good in Winnipeg right now. People are happy around the rink and the season is going well so far.”

“Last year was tough. Everyone was saying I should be happy with how I played and stuff. But, like, I don’t care about that. I want to win. That’s is the only reason I play hockey.”

The story quickly became a rallying cry for the city during the Jets’ run to the 2018 Western Conference Finals, with his quotes showing up on shirts and sweaters donned by hundreds of fans at White-Out parties on Donald Street, and by Laine himself in press conferences.

Extended

Laine entered the final year of his three-year, entry-level deal with more question marks over his head.

The Jets and Laine couldn’t come to terms on a contract extension over the summer, opting instead, to kick that down the road into the summer of 2019, when Laine would become a restricted free agent.

He scored 30 goals in the 2018-19 season — a career-low, but still giving him 110 in his first 237 career games, a pace that would put him among the top 50 NHL players of all-time in terms of goals per game.

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Laine missed training camp and five pre-season games before finally putting pen to paper on a two-year, $13.5-million deal making him the Jets’ third-highest paid player behind captain Blake Wheeler and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien — who’d never suit up for another game with the Jets before the team terminated his contract the following summer.

Laine’s contract was overshadowed just a day later, when the Jets agreed to terms with restricted free-agent forward Kyle Connor on a seven-year $50-million extension.

“I’m here, aren’t I?”

Laine put up 28 goals in the shortened 2019-20 NHL regular season, but despite playing only 68 games, set a career-high in assists with 35.

The Jets would fall to the Calgary Flames during the NHL’s playoff round in August in four games. Laine would only appear in two-and-a-half periods of the series, leaving the first game early with a hand injury.

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For the second time in his four-year NHL career, Laine entered a contract year, and many of the same questions that fans were asking in 2019 were back in 2020.

Once again, the Jets and Laine didn’t find any common ground during the shortened off-season, but Laine’s agent Mike Luit fueled the fire by suggesting a trade could be the best option for both sides.

Chevaldayoff didn’t deny that he’d been exploring moving the 22-year-old — when pressed by reporters about the remarks, he said “We’re looking at all our options, including potentially trading different players.”

But when asked at training camp about his agents’ comments, Laine was succinct:

“I’m here, aren’t I? That’s the only thing I’m worried about right now. I’m not in charge of what other people are saying. I don’t worry about that stuff.”

And when the Jets hit the ice for their 2020 season-opening game against the Calgary Flames last Thursday, Laine certainly looked unbothered.

He scored two goals — including the overtime winner — as the Jets came back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Flames 4-3.

They’d be the two final goals Laine would score in a Jets uniform.

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