The NHL draft is now less than a week away with the first round set for this Friday. Over the next several days, we will be taking a closer look at the prospects who will hear their name called early on Friday night.
Next up is potentially the top goal scoring threat in the draft, Patrik Laine.
Position: Right Wing
Birthdate: April 19, 1998
Hometown: Tampere, Finland
Weight: 201 lbs
Laine was one of the go-to scorers on a deep Tappara team during the regular season (17 goals in 46 games); his 33 points was good for 37th overall in league scoring – no small feat for a 17 year old. He then found another gear in the postseason, adding ten more goals in 15 games to lead all postseason players in scoring, earning himself MVP honors in the process.
Laine suited up at the World Juniors where he finished third in tournament scoring (behind teammates Jesse Puljujarvi and Sebastian Aho), notching 13 points in just seven games. On top of that, he also represented Finland at the World Championships where he led the team in scoring (12 points in 10 games) and made it to the tournament All-Star team.
Tappara: 46 GP, 17 goals, 16 assists, 33 points, 6 PIMS, +6 rating
WJC’s: 7 GP, 7 goals, 6 assists, 13 points, 6 PIMS, +8 rating
Worlds: 10 GP, 7 goals, 5 assists, 12 points, 4 PIMS, 4 rating
Laine is the best pure goal scorer in the draft. He has a bullet for a slap shot, a lethal one-timer, and a quick, accurate wrister. That type of shooting versatility will give NHL goalies fits for a long time. On top of that, he’s a quality skater whose stride when in motion allows him to beat his defenders to the wide side. His first stride needs some work but improved during the season.
Overall offensively, Laine is more of a scorer than a playmaker but he’s comfortable with the puck on his stick and has a good feel for passing. He has a tendency to get a little too cute in terms of his stickhandling and will slow down his stride to do so but those are correctable as he continues to develop.
Defensively, Laine isn’t a liability as he’s comfortable battling around the boards, knows how to play the passing lanes, and will lay out to block shots. He improved considerably in his own end this past year and should continue to improve as he gets more comfortable with the physical side of the game as he learns to deal with bigger, stronger opponents.
Projected Future Role
Top line scoring winger.
Laine is capable of stepping into an NHL lineup as soon as next season and should play in a top six role right away. He should contend for the league lead in rookie scoring in 2016-17.