WINNIPEG - Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice said earlier in training camp he has a series of line-up possibilities for the regular season opener in New York on Oct. 3 ready to go.
The one he'll actually get to use just became a bit clearer.
The Jets agreed to terms with restricted free agent Patrik Laine on Friday afternoon. The deal, a two-year contract worth $13.5 million, carries an average annual value of $6.75 million.
For General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, the deal is worth a full summer of negotiations.
"Patrik has some travelling to do and I look forward to seeing him when he gets into town," Cheveldayoff said on a conference call. "I haven't spoken to him yet, but I know from the moment they agreed to terms, he was high tailing it to the airport to go back to Finland to get everything in order."
The 21-year-old Laine had been training with SC Bern in Switzerland since signing there in mid-September.
Now though, the Finnish sniper is on the way back to Winnipeg and is expected to arrive in the next couple of days.
"There is a logistic side to things that need to get taken care of," Cheveldayoff said, adding he couldn't nail down whether Laine would be ready for opening night against the New York Rangers.
"He's been practicing with a pro team. I think that's a positive thing."
Laine is coming off his third consecutive 30-goal campaign in 2018-19. He scored his 100th career goal on Nov. 29 against the Chicago Blackhawks - becoming the fourth youngest in NHL history to reach that (20 years, 224 days).
His 110 goals are also the sixth most in the NHL since Laine entered the league in 2016. Over that same span, Laine has scored 44 power play goals - second only to Alex Ovechkin.
"We're dealing with an elite player here. If you look at his stats and what he's accomplished at 18, 19, and 20-years-old, there aren't many players that have done that," said Cheveldayoff. "That's what makes it most exciting for us with Patrik. I think we're just starting to scratch the surface of what he actually brings to the table here. We've got an opportunity here to see it all unfold in front of us in front of our eyes."
Video: SIGNED | Patrik Laine
Maurice has often talked about the growth he's seen in Laine's game away from the puck since that 2016 season.
Earlier in this year's training camp, the head coach said that growth was one of the reasons he put Laine on the left wing with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
"I thought Patty's game took off a bit. Not in goal scoring, which is how I feel he's measured and I'm sure how he measures himself, but in terms of all the other parts of the game," Maurice said on Sept. 19. "Running the right routes, finishing checks, understanding with Mark's group a lot of times they do play against the other team's best. I saw some growth there. Some growth and development that will have to continue and we expect it to continue."
That growth, according to Cheveldayoff, tends to come with age - and not just in Laine's case.
"We're a team that's growing. We're a team that's maturing. We've gone from a couple of 18, 19, 20-year-olds to a couple of 21, 22, and 23-year-olds," said Cheveldayoff. "That's all part of how you hope to progress. You deal with the different marketplaces as they come to you. That's why you see different terms."
Video: ON THE LINE | Kevin Cheveldayoff on Laine's new deal
Cheveldayoff and Assistant General Manager Larry Simmons began negotiating with Laine far before this off season. Like every team in the NHL, the Jets were trying to find the best way to make every contract signed this off-season work inside the $81.5-million cap.
Since May 23, Cheveldayoff has put the finishing touches on 19 transactions, but it hasn't been without help.
"Larry Simmons does a fantastic job in our office of valuing things, putting valuations on things, and doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to stuff like this," Cheveldayoff said. "It's about understanding where you're at in your own world and doing things accordingly."
With Laine's contract done, the focus shifts to the last restricted free agent on Cheveldayoff's list - Kyle Connor.
"We still have some work ahead of us here yet," Cheveldayoff said. "So as excited as I am, I have to put my work boots back on and keep on grinding."