Patrik Laine started the season as the presumed number three pick in the draft, but as the season progressed, he mounted a challenge for number one. It is not difficult to understand why when watching the big winger play.
Plenty of teams will be looking for a top six winger, and Laine could fill such a void in the upcoming season. He has size, intelligence, and a shot that is incredible for his age. He would undoubtedly bring scoring with him wherever he lands, and will be one of the rookies to watch next season.
Birthplace: Tampere, Finland
Position: RW / LW
Height: 6'4" Weight: 209 lbs
While he was always on the radar, he really started to get noticed at the World Junior Championships, finishing behind Jesse Puljujärvi and Sebastian Aho, but ahead of Auston Matthews. In the Finnish Liiga playoffs, Laine stepped his game up to an incredible level for a 17-year-old, showing leadership and scoring some incredibly well-timed goals. By the end, he was the recipient of Jari Kurri Trophy as the playoff MVP, and followed that up by being chosen as the tournament MVP in the recent World Championships.
Coming off a 33-point regular season (17+16), what really stood out was the 15 points (10+5) he scored in 18 playoff games. A couple of the goals were in the dying seconds of the game when Tappara needed to equalize. This is where he really shines; when a game is on the line, he steps up to another level.
He's a big and strong forward that makes his presence felt in all three zones. He uses his frame to protect the puck very well, and has good hands to create space when he needs to. And he doesn't need much space to unleash that aforementioned shot, which is as accurate as it is hard. NHL goaltenders are not going to like this one.
The one thing that he could improve is his skating. With his big frame, he isn't the best on the skates. He's not a bad skater by any means, but he could have a more explosive stride and some better footwork. Often times, his insanely good release covers for his footwork, so some improvement there could make him even more dangerous, which is scary to think about.
He has been trusted in all situations on the ice, and while it is early to say where his ceiling is, this is a star we will speak about for years.
Thomas Roost, NHL-Scout for Central Scouting (available @thomasroost)
In my eyes he is the one player in the draft with the biggest upside. I guess his upside is even a bit bigger than the Auston Matthews'. Laine is a smart kid with a really good confidence. He did improve a lot in the last 18 months, so his learning-curve is steep and this also a good indication about where he might end up in the future. Laine has excellent hands and underrated playmaking abilities, I did watch him dishing up high-end plays. He uses his long arms for efficient, big sized-moves, so he puts himself often into promising shooting positions without big help of his teammates. His best weapon is his shot, wrist-shot and one-timer. Laine is a high-end shooter. He is still a bit raw and doesn't look very polished in some situations but still is already very effective and these not perfectly polished plays yet are also an indication of his high-end upside. I also see still some small negatives in Laine: Looking at this history he might be a little bit injury-prone.
In addition his skating is decent and he gets the job done with skating and did improve it a lot and still probably will improve further but at this point he is not explosive enough and he doesn't move his feet all the time although overall I list him now already as an average to good skater. I sometimes see him making plays standing still. He has to learn to be constantly on the move. If he further "develops" his already good confidence he might end up with a so called "overconfidence" and this would then be a negative. Coming back to my praises and stopping now trying to find negatives: I absolutely love Patrik Laine, he is such a bright hockey-prospect in various aspects and although I strongly believe that Matthews will go No. 1 I personally would draft Laine as the No1. overall and this means quite a lot because I'm also very high on Matthews.
Patrik Laine put the jumper cables on his draft stock over the summer and broke out at Lake Placid as a monstrous, handsy, drop-toone-knee sharp shooting winger. 37th in LIIGA PTS, with a 5.50SOG/GP rate on 253SOG, the 17 year old Laine was a rippling offensive current whom Tappara funneled their attack through without shame. Part of an elite line at the WJC, he expertly blended his powerful stick with Puljujarvi’s speed/hustle and Aho’s smarts/vision. Laine has come a long way in a short amount of time and it’s hard to miss his fierce competitiveness to make a difference. With 10G in 18GP in the playoffs (most thrilling), he has shown he is a bloodthirsty goal scorer opponents must respect even with 1 second left in the game.
Despite the love for twine, Laine is a high-end passer with fantastic wrist/arm strength on the forehand and backhand and a large passing radius. Though he is a top line PF winger, he has improved - not erased - skating concerns and needs to quicken the pace he makes plays at. At times, he is content slowing down and attempting to stickhandle his way through coverage that is clearly collapsing on him. His strength as a shooter can also be weakness, as he can get caught up in positioning himself for the shot and end up being stationary to a fault. Laine has been and will continue to be such a game changing sniper, that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could be a preference/gut pick at #1.
A man-child, Laine has been a focal offensive player with Liiga champion Tappara with an elite goal-scorer’s skill set complemented by his size and developing 200-foot game. He loves to be the guy who is leading the charge on the play and does so in an imposing manner. Even with the height and weight of his frame, he has some quick feet. Laine only needs a few powerful steps to accelerate before he can lengthen out his stride and get to max speed, an area that he has dramatically improved over the past two seasons. He has tremendous balance on his feet, maintaining technique through transition and becoming a human battering ram due to the momentum he is capable of building. Laine loves to carry the puck with speed, and has the ability to recognize lanes or holes he can travel through that provide the least amount of defensive resistance. When challenged for space, he has the ability to hide the puck and use his power to maintain control. Has some superb puck skills and can dazzle with jaw-dropping hands. He consistently shows a high level of creativity without grave risk-taking tendencies. Offensively, he is more of a sniper thana set-up guy, although he doesn’t lack in either skill category. His elite IQ makes the world his oyster when setting up shop offensively.
Laine has the magic touch with his passes, calming pucks quickly before moving them accurately. He is capable of making a lot of plays based on sensing where his teammates are going to be and leading them perfectly to pick up a puck in stride. When he keeps the puck, he loves to get off his lethal shot. His release is all-pro and helps him maintain a consistent spray chart on net. He has also shown his one-timer is a goaltender’s nightmare, with his combination of timing and power. Laine’s confidence level is through the roof with and without the puck, knowing where he needs to be for optimal success. He always seems to be moving to find open ice where he can support a play. He plays the game with a high tempo and loves to get involved in pressure scenarios. Laine activates his feet on the forecheck to get a bead on the puck carrier and wallop him with a solid check. He has great ability to recognize the play developing through the neutral zone and in his own end. His reach is spectacular and so is his ability to get his stick in the comfort zone of his opponents.
Was exceptional at IIHF 2016 World Championship for Team Finland, and really closed the gap on Matthews. Laine picked up a silver medal and won the tournament MVP, finished with 7 goals and 12 points in 10 games. Highly skilled sniper looks better and better after every game. Elevated his game and helped lead Tappara to its first championship since 2003. Laine was named the winner of the 2016 Jari Kurri Trophy for playoff MVP. Laine's offensive tools (shot, hands, vision...) are off the charts. Has improved his defensive game a lot during this season. Uses his big size well: covers the puck and gives heavy hits. Very good at the WJC in Helsinki, where he helped Finland to win a Gold medal.
Future Considerations: 2nd
Central Scouting service: 2nd
Draft Buzz Hockey: 2nd
Bob McKenzie: 2nd
Draft Analyst: 2nd
If Patrik Laine is available at ninth, you might be charged with having manipulated the draft. If by some magical turn of events he is, you take him, and then flee the scene of the crime with haste. Montreal could sorely use the type of scoring he brings to the table, but the likelihood of them getting their hands on him is remote to say the least.
To move up to second over all would take a lot, most likely some solid roster players players, as Laine will almost certainly go straight into the team that selects him in the draft. The Finnish winger really blossomed out after the WJC and while I thought he might need another year in the Liiga, his performances in the playoffs and at the World Championships have proven me wrong.
This is a player that you can build your team around. He figures to be a prominent figure on an NHL team next year, and for many years to come. By all accounts, he'll be a top line winger before long, and one that has the potential to win awards for putting pucks in nets.