Following an eight-year, $58 million contact extension given to Filip Hronek, Sportsnet talked to Jim Rutherford about the signing, the Canucks’ off-season priorities, the past season, and more.

MONTREAL — It’s another mailbag filled to the brim with great questions, so let’s dive right in — starting with this doozy on Patrik Laine, who is reportedly looking for a fresh start with another team.

These are two straightforward questions that deserve direct answers, but this situation is so complicated that it’s impossible to provide them before — or even after — breaking it down from every angle.

Let’s start with what we know. 

We know Laine’s goal-scoring ability is proven. We know he topped out at 44 goals in his second season in the league and that he’s averaged 34.85 goals per 82 games over the 480 he’s played. We know that even if his production has gradually shrunk over his four seasons in Columbus, it has still remained high enough for him to maintain his status as a bona fide top-six forward.

Sure, he had only six goals in 18 games this past season before entering the NHL/NHLPA player’s assistance program but that’s still 27 goals over 82 games.

We also know the big Finn is 26 years old and under contract for two more seasons. 

He’ll be paid $9.1 million in each of them — $2 million of which must be paid up front each July — and his cap hit in each of them will be $8.7 million.

You know what else comes with that contract? A no-trade clause that allows Laine to choose 10 teams he refuses to be traded to.

Let’s move away from Laine for a second and get into what we know about Columbus. 

The Blue Jackets have a wealth of young talent rising through the ranks, they just hired Don Waddell as president of hockey operations, general manager and alternate governor, and Waddell just fired head coach Pascal Vincent. 

While outside expectations might be low for this team — and justifiably so, considering their 29th-place finish — these moves signal a deep internal desire to turn things around quickly.

Considering that, and the stuff mentioned before it, I have my own questions.

1. It’s not as if the Blue Jackets should feel they could hit a home run (or even a ground-rule double) with this trade, but would they be willing to just hit a single and accept moving Laine in a deal that essentially renders his loss addition by subtraction? Perhaps. But given how intent they appear on taking a big step forward, I’m not so certain.

2. What are the chances Laine is willing to come out of the player’s assistance program and play in a market like Montreal, where the white-hot spotlight is inescapable? I have no idea.

3. What’s the market for Laine and how will it be affected by his no-trade clause? I wonder, because if there’s only four or five teams seriously contemplating moving for him and he’s unwilling to go to three or four of them, Waddell’s ability to turn this into anything more than a cap dump and/or a trade in which he’s taking on a problem for a problem is significantly reduced.

So, to answer your first question, I have to make a number of assumptions.

The first is that Laine is willing to come to Montreal, and it’s a big one. 

The second is that Columbus is willing to retain money on his contract and/or take back a contract (most likely of an underperforming player who’s making more than what he’s worth to the Canadiens), because I can’t see the Canadiens taking on the considerable risk Laine brings without doing it this way.

They’d likely have to part with an extra piece — a draft pick, a prospect, or a left-handed defenceman lower on their NHL depth chart — to get it done, which they might be willing to do. 

But whether or not that would move the needle enough for Columbus would depend entirely on the market for Laine.