In our latest series, we will feature and take an in-depth look at some of the top prospects around the league who are soon to make an impact at the NHL level.
He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft and he, just like top pick Auston Matthews, is gaining a lot of attention as a future star in the NHL. His elite level talent is arguably as good as Matthews, or at least very close to his level of talent. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time to meet Patrik Laine.
Laine(as mentioned above) was the No. 2 overall selection by the Winnipeg Jets in this past year's draft. He's a natural scorer with an intimidating shot and is always hungry to create opportunities from the wing(per eliteprospects.com). His skating has been cited as a minor issue by scouts though, but that shouldn't be much of an issue as he has offset that by his outstanding ability to read the game.
Laine joins Kyle Connor, Nicolas Petan, Mark Scheifele, Marko Dano, and Nikolaj Ehlers as the next wave of talented young forwards that are expected to make up the core of this Jets team. Laine has said he's been excited to get this season started and is looking to make an impact right away.
Before he was drafted, Laine said that in 5 years he hopes to be at the same level as Alex Ovechkin and thinks he can indeed achieve that goal. If the 6'4", 201 pound, right winger from Tampere, Finland is to do that, he's got plenty of work ahead once he starts playing for the Jets.
Laine wasn't initially looked at as even challenging Auston Matthews for the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL draft, but it was his performance in the 2016 IIHF tournament for Finland where he showed scouts he is just as good as Matthews can be. He recorded 12 points(7G,5A) in 12 games in the tournament for his home country and was one of the leaders in scoring out of all countries in the tournament.
With that showing, the Toronto Maple Leafs were rumored to be considering him over Matthews briefly before the draft, but once the draft came along, it was Matthews who was called 1st. Some say Laine would have had a better chance at challenging Matthews for the top spot had he been a center, but going No. 2 was fine with Laine, as he says he's already feeling at home with the Jets.
He'll be calling Winnipeg home for awhile now, being he is now the center of attention in that city as he looks to make a name for himself as one of the top players in the NHL in the coming years. On a team with so much young talent around him, it should be fascinating to see how he performs with his new teammates and how this team as a whole grows into a playoff contender in the near future.