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Laine willing to wait for extension with Jets

Forward has one season remaining on entry-level contract, not concerned with lack of discussions

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

STOCKHOLM -- Patrik Laine said he is not concerned about the lack of significant discussions with the Winnipeg Jets this offseason regarding a contract extension.

The 20-year-old forward has one season remaining on his three-year, entry-level contract and said he would love to play for the Jets far beyond that and is willing to be patient.

"It's not something we need to hurry because I still have a contract," Laine said Thursday during the NHL European Player Media Tour. "But obviously that's something I want to do at some point and they want to do. But there's no rush."

Laine wouldn't discuss specifics about the talks between his agent, Mike Liut, and the Jets, but said there have been no major discussions. If he needs to wait until after the season to get a deal done, Laine said he is fine with that. He can be a restricted free agent after this season.

"I really don't care," Laine said. "There's no rush, really. I can do it next summer or this summer. I don't mind."

Laine, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, made it clear he's happy with the direction the Jets are headed and would sign with them long term. Winnipeg (52-20-10) finished second in the Central Division last season and reached the Western Conference Final, which it lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games.

Laine was a big part of Winnipeg's success; he was second in the NHL with 44 goals last season, behind Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who scored 49. Laine scored 36 goals as an 18-year-old rookie in 2016-17.

"It's always easier if it's long term so you don't have to think about doing a new contract for a while, and I'm happy where I'm at," Laine said. "I want to stay there for sure. That's something I want to do and hopefully they're thinking the same way."

Laine's 80 goals as a teenager rank third in NHL history behind Jimmy Carson (92) and Dale Hawerchuk (85). But he said he has room to improve. 

"I don't have any numbers that I want to achieve, but if I'm a better player this season than I was last year, then I'll be satisfied," he said.

After playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time last season and getting 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 17 games, Laine is focused on helping the Jets reach the Cup Final.

"I have to be proud of the team and proud of myself because it was a great season, but it didn't end the way we wanted it to," he said. "There's still some work to do and we weren't able to take the last step, but hopefully we'll be ready to do that this year."

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