July 2, 2019 | 10:20pm ET



Patrik Laine, left wing


Contract talks between the Winnipeg Jets and restricted free agent Patrik Laine are about to enter the ‘let’s get serious’ phase and how negotiations progress will play a vital role in the star sniper’s future with the organization.

Laine, 21, is coming off his three-year entry-level contract and is believed to be looking for a significant salary worth more than $8 million on a mid-range deal with the Jets.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and Laine’s agents have had fairly loose discussions to date, but talks are expected to ramp up in the near future.

The Jets would certainly like to get Laine locked up to a long-term deal, but that would result in a higher cap hit. A short-term deal may result in a smaller average annual salary, but Laine may look to go the route of Auston Matthews and Sebastian Aho and aim for a five-year term.

Aho, of course, agreed to a five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet with the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, stealing headlines on the first day of free agency, but the deal will be matched by the Carolina Hurricanes within the next six days, the team announced.

Montreal’s attempt, if successful, would have cost the team a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a third-round pick.

The Canadiens are the first team to sign a player to an offer sheet since the Calgary Flames signed Ryan O'Reilly to a two-year, $10 million deal midway through the 2012-13 season. The Colorado Avalanche matched the offer.

The last off-season that saw two players accept offer sheets, though both were matched, came in 2008 when David Backes (St. Louis Blues) signed a three-year, $7.5 million offer sheet with the Vancouver Canucks, only to have the Blues sign Steve Bernier, of the Canucks, to a one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet.

It’s possible another player is lured by an offer sheet this summer, and as TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta reported earlier, there appears to be a real threat Laine could join the offer sheet club.

While nothing is imminent, should contract talks between the Jets and Laine fail to progress in the right direction, Laine is prepared to explore alternative options, according to Pagnotta, who cited sources close to the situation.

Speculation suggests a short-term deal, either two or three years, could be in the cards when the dust settles with the Jets, but it will ultimately come down to dollars and cents, and if those figures don’t add up, the offer sheet noise could get louder in Winnipeg.

The Jets have not only Laine to try and get locked up to a new deal, but fellow RFA forward Kyle Connor is in need of a new deal, along with forward Andrew Copp and newly-acquired defenceman Neal Pionk.

Winnipeg has just over $22.872 million in salary cap space, as per CapFriendly.com, and that pot will dry up quickly. How much of it gets allocated for Laine remains to be seen.