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What's next for Patrik Laine and the Columbus Blue Jackets?

Unless you've been living under a rock over the last week, then you no doubt are familiar with the shocking, and seemingly unforeseen free agent signing that saw superstar, Johnny Gaudreau, sign a massive seven-year, $68.25 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Teams such as the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders were seen as heavy favorites to sign Johnny Hockey, but Columbus swept in at the last minute, stunning and upsetting the entire hockey world. As an outsider looking in -- since there was no shot my favorite team would've been able to afford Gaudreau -- I watched the situation intently, and I say; good for Columbus. You love to see the small market, little brother teams flex their muscles here and there.

But with the signing of one superstar, comes the possibility that they might lose the other.

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


Columbus' big acquisition from the Winnipeg Jets two seasons ago, and Johnny Gaudreau's assumed co-star, Finnish forward Patrik Laine, is currently a restricted free-agent this offseason and is also due for a big pay day.

As of today, the Columbus Blue Jackets have right around $2.3 million left in remaining cap space, which is almost certainly not enough to lock Laine up long-term, which I'm sure is a priority for him right now. However, Columbus does have options when it comes to clearing up the necessary cap room in order to keep Laine in a Blue Jackets uniform.

For starters, Columbus has quite a few players who could be assigned to their AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters. Gavin Bayreuther, Brendan Gaunce, Mathieu Olivier, Carson Meyer and Daniil Tarasov are all guys who will more than likely start the 2022-23 season down in the AHL, so already Columbus has a few million dollars in cap space freed up.

Also, there's the youth factor. Columbus currently has five players (24 years of age and younger) making $1 million or less. Depending on how training camp goes, that number could rapidly increase. David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk -- both of which were the Jackets' 2022 first-round picks -- as well as top prospects like Jake Christiansen, Stanislav Svozil and Trey Fix-Wolansky could all potentially make the roster to start the season.

Not including the $9,750,000 that Gaudreau is owed for next year, the Columbus Blue Jackets highest paid players going into the 2022-23 season will be:

  • Zach Werenski - D - $9,583,333

  • Jakub Voracek - F - $8,250,000

  • Gustav Nyquist - F - $5,500,000

  • Elvis Merzļikins - G - $5,400,000

  • Oliver Bjorkstrand - F - $5,400,000

  • Erik Gudbranson - D - $4,000,000

  • Jack Roslovic - F - $4,000,000


Now, of course, when you're trying to fit both Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine into the same roster, none of the aforementioned names are immovable. So which of these contracts are likely to be moved? One thing is for sure, the Blue Jackets front office better get a move on before another team gives Laine an offer sheet.

According to, the 2022-23 Columbus Blue Jackets opening night roster could look something like this:


  • Johnny Gaudreau - Jack Roslovic - Patrik Laine

  • Gustav Nyquist - Boone Jenner - Oliver Bjorkstrand

  • Jakub Voracek - Cole Sillinger - Yegor Chinakhov

  • Eric Robinson - Sean Kuraly - Alexandre Texier


  • Zach Werenski - Adam Boqvist

  • Vladislav Gavrikov - Andrew Peeke

  • Jake Bean - Erik Gudbranson


With teams like the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings getting increasingly stronger over the offseason, add the Columbus Blue Jackets to the list of Eastern Conference teams that could make a playoff push in 2022-23, assuming they can figure out how to retain Patrik Laine.

Despite missing a good portion of the season due to injury, Laine still finished 2021-22 with 56 points in 56 games played, on 26 goals and 30 assists, still making him a point-per-game player.

"I love Columbus, and I know Johnny Gaudreau is going to love it. Players are starting to realize how special it is to play in Columbus."

-Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman, Zach Werenski


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