Sitting 10 points out of the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to be sellers before the March 21 trade deadline. That's raised questions about which players general manager Jarmo Kekalainen could shop leading up to deadline day.
Don't expect Patrik Laine to be among the trade candidates. There's been some media chatter over the 23-year-old left winger's future in Columbus due to his restricted free-agent status this summer. However, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reports Kekalainen accused some in the press of making up rumors for headlines and clicks.
The basis for that conjecture could be the reports claiming contract talks between Kekalainen and the Laine camp had yet to begin. He told LeBrun he'll meet with them when the time is right and remains hopeful of working something out.
That won't silence media speculation over Laine's contract situation but it should put an end to the notion the talented winger will be moved by the deadline. Meanwhile, several of Laine's teammates could be playing their final games as Blue Jackets.
Pending unrestricted free agents such as forward Max Domi, defenseman Dean Kukan and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo could be shopped, though the latter has been sidelined for weeks with a lower-body injury. So could Jack Roslovic, who is struggling in his second season in his hometown. Like Laine, the 25-year-old center is an RFA with arbitration rights this summer.
Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli included versatile forward Alexandre Texier among his list of depth players who could become this year's version of Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow. However, he's sidelined with a fractured finger and remains “weeks away”.