Winnipeg Jets 2021 season preview: Patrik Laine situation looms large over everything

James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets will ice another competitive team for the 2020-21 NHL season, backstopped by one of the league's elite netminders in Connor Hellebuyck.

But as the team looks to push for another long playoff run, dark storm clouds are overhead, as trade rumors persist involving goal-scoring wizard Patrik Laine. Here's everything you need to know about the Jets prior to opening night:

Big question: What's up with Patrik Laine?

The Canadian border might be the only thing that keeps Laine in Winnipeg this season. After last season, agent Mike Liut suggested that the Jets trade Laine, who was reportedly unhappy with his role in the lineup. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff didn't exactly defuse that bombshell in the offseason. When asked his status with the team, Laine told local reporters, "Well, I'm here, aren't I?"

The 22-year-old winger is in the last year of his contract ahead of restricted free agency, and had 63 points in 68 games last season. He has 138 goals in his first 305 games. Assuming he's in Winnipeg this season, the Jets found him someone to play with: Paul Stastny, with whom Laine clicked when the Jets acquired the veteran center at the trade deadline in 2018, before Stastny left as a free agent. By far, the Patrik Laine drama is the most intriguing aspect of the Jets this season.