Could the Rangers trade for a disgruntled Blue Jackets winger?

Oct 29, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Patrik Laine (29) controls the puck against New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers came up just short once again of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Broadway for the first time since 1994. After a Presidents Trophy-winning campaign that featured the Blueshirts recording a franchise record 114 points, the Rangers made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in three seasons by sweeping the Washington Capitals in the first round and beating the Carolina Hurricanes in six games before running into the buzzsaw that was the Florida Panthers.

The Rangers now enter the offseason looking for areas to improve to finally get Lord Stanley’s Cup back in their hands. A key area that needs focus is at the top-six right-winger position.

The Blueshirts have had a revolving door at the spot on the lethal Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider line, and with the Rangers top-end scorers going quiet in their elimination, it felt like another scorer could have made the difference. Now, a top-end scorer is available that the Rangers could acquire from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Columbus is shopping Patrik Laine

Patrik Laine, Rangers
Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report by Pierre LeBrun of TSN, the Blue Jackets and Patrik Laine are looking to move on from one another this season.

Laine is coming off an injury-riddled campaign. The 26-year-old has six goals and three assists in 18 games but missed a majority of the season with a clavicle fracture before entering the player assistance program. The Finnish native has two more years left on his contract at $8.7 million annually.

What would it take for the Rangers to land Laine?

Patrik Laine, Rangers
Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

With Laine’s struggles and the publicity of wanting out, along with the substantial cap hit, the Blue Jackets may not get the biggest haul. Still, a player with Laine’s pedigree won’t come cheap, and the Rangers would have to cough up a young player and possibly a pick as well.

A couple of players that could go the other way in a trade for Laine would be Kaapo Kakko, who has struggled to live up to expectations as a second-overall pick and could use a change of scenery. Another would be Filip Chytil, due to his $4.44 million cap hit and injury history, which makes him a candidate to move, although the Rangers’ depth problems at the center spot would make it a little more complicated.

Time will tell if the Blueshirts will trade for Laine, but president and general manager Chris Drury should explore the possibility given the squad’s desperate need at the position.

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