On the morning of Saturday, January 23 it was announced the Jets had traded Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 2022 third round draft pick. Laine has been a fan favourite in Winnipeg from the moment he stepped onto the ice in 2016. He’s treated fans to so many great performances, and been such an important part of the team the entire time he’s been here.
The trade is somewhat of a risky one. Laine, with his all-world shot, and a seemingly improving ability to drive play, looks like a guy that with just a little bit more growth can be a guy who turns into a real superstar in the NHL. Dubois, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same ceiling Laine does, but at this point is already a very strong play driver, and creates more offence at even strength than Laine does. Dubois won’t contribute the way Laine does on the power play, but the even strength impact will be strong.
Laine will be missed
Laine was the subject of a lot of rumours this summer. The media consistently reported he was unhappy in Winnipeg and wanted out. Nothing confirmed this more than the infamous quote, “I’m here, aren’t I?”
Laine was uncomfortable throughout that interview, and was given plenty of opportunity to say he wanted to remain in Winnipeg if he really did want to. Instead he tried his best to be non-committal in his answers and I think it came out rather awkwardly.
Laine was a professional throughout this whole process. Head coach Paul Maurice praised him for having a fantastic training camp, and it showed in the one game he played with the Jets this season. He was in control of the play on the ice. He was making great passes, controlling the puck in the offensive zone, made a great pass to Connor for a 5 on 3 power play goal, and scored two goals including an incredible shot from just inside the top of the circle, and a play in overtime which saw him fake an opponent behind the net, go end to end with speed, and bury the winner.
Laine gave us unforgettable memories, right from the first time he stepped onto the ice, until the very last time the puck came off of his stick in a Jets uniform. The electric Finn will be missed dearly.
Breaking down the trade
The comparison of Laine and Dubois at even strength, as far as the last couple of years go, isn’t really a close one. Dubois has easily been the better player at even strength. Laine has struggled to drive much play, whereas Dubois has been very good in that regard. Laine’s ability to make plays in the offensive zone and shoot the puck has helped, but even that hasn’t been enough to match Dubois’s offensive contribution at even strength.
The above shows that while Patrik Laine had an elite impact on the power play, the overall impact that he brought, in the systems the Jets were running, was not as high as maybe some people thought. The overall offence he brought was very good, and the overall defence was not good, although he did improve on it last year.
Dubois has had a more positive impact on both offence and defence at even strength, although Dubois hasn’t been particularly good defensively either. Exactly what he brings to the Jets remains to be seen, but a player like Dubois, who has been good at driving play and great at generating offence, will be a welcome addition to the Jets who could really use some play drivers to add to Nikolaj Ehlers and Andrew Copp.
Jack Roslovic is the forgotten man in this trade. He has had limited success playing mostly a bottom six role in Winnipeg.
The above shows Roslovic has roughly had an average impact in three seasons in the NHL, perhaps even slightly below average. He has shown flashes that make people think he can be a top six forward in the NHL. He has also disappeared at times, most specifically when he’s been played at centre.
My thought is that Roslovic can be a decent middle six winger in the NHL. It’s possible that he can become a decent centre, but there seemed to be some hesitancy in his game when he played at centre.
Who won the trade?
Typically, I’m not a guy who subscribes to the idea that you shouldn’t judge a trade right away. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Trades are made with information that is available at the time of the trade, not in hindsight. If a GM makes a trade that is likely to produce a good result given all information, but it doesn’t work out, it was a good trade, it was just a bad result. That is, the process is what really matters when making trades, or in fact any decision.
As far as the Laine trade goes though, it is oh so close. The Winnipeg Jets traded a high-ceiling player and a player who hasn’t been great but can still improve, for a player who is already having a strong positive impact on results, as well as a third round draft pick in 2022, which likely won’t be a factor for years, if ever.
I think both teams got what they were looking for. Each traded a problem (in Winnipeg’s case, two problems), and got a great piece in return. It’s a trade that makes sense for both teams, so it’s hard to call a winner on this one.
One thing is for sure though. Jets fans will never forget the memories that Laine gave them.