2015-16 Team: Tappara Tampere (#29)
Date of birth: 4/19/1998
Place of birth: Tampere, Finland
Ht: 6’4 Wt: 201
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible
THW rankings: 2
- Future Considerations: 2
- McKeen’s Hockey: 1
- Hockeyprospectus.com: 2
- Hockeyprospect.com: 2
Catapulting Laine’s Draft Stock
What a year it has been for Patrik Laine. He had been projected somewhere in the top 15 at the beginning of the season and is now challenging Auston Matthews for the first overall pick according to some scouting services and scouts. He has done everything he can to make it a race for the first overall spot and has put on a show from December on, where he won the gold medal for Finland at the U20 WJC, followed by an impressive playoff campaign winning the league title with Tappara.
What makes Laine such a dangerous scorer is his elite shot. He has the best shot in the draft, with an absolute cannon and NHL-ready weapon. He can rip the puck on net in so many different ways and has exceptional timing on one-timers. He shoots the puck with great velocity and outstanding accuracy. His wrist shot is almost as dangerous as his slapshot and he can beat goaltenders up high with ease. He is an absolute weapon on the powerplay and often positions himself on the blueline to fire the puck with a one-timer and beat the goaltenders up high. Laine has drawn comparisons with some of the best goal scorers in the game and has the potential to hit his goal of reaching the 50-goal mark in the NHL one day.
There had been some concerns about his skating but he has improved a lot in this regard. While he is still not an elite skater, not very smooth on his skates and sometimes glides awkwardly over the ice, his skating gets him where he wants. Because of his big size, he is pretty hard to knock off the puck and likes to go for the hard hit. He is going to be a strong physical player in the NHL when his body matures.
Laine is not only a pure goal scorer, he can also distribute the puck with power and accuracy. It is an underrated aspect of his game, often overshadowed by his goal scoring instincts. He is a team player and does not take a shift off. His defensive zone play has matured in the past months and he shows an understanding of defensive responsibilities.
He is an outstanding talent and works very hard off the ice to succeed on the ice. He has an incredible will to win and is an ultra-ambitious kid, who hates to lose. He has that fractious determination to score the goal seen in any elite goal scorer.
NHL Draft Projection:
It is crazy to think that a guy with such a strong season would not be selected first overall. In many other years, he would have been the first overall pick without doubt. Even if he did everything possible to challenge Auston Matthews, it won’t be enough to surpass the American center. Laine will be selected second overall by the Winnipeg Jets.
Laine is an imposing forward with a lethal right-hand shot that he likes to use on the off-wing, especially on the power play. A dominant offensive player in junior hockey, he has worked to become more aware of his defensive responsibilities. Like fellow countrymen Jesse Puljujarvi he played in Liiga as a 17-year-old. More of a sniper than a playmaker, Laine nonetheless has stick handling and passing skills that are extremely advanced for a player his age. His offensive decision making, particularly when to hold the puck, when to shoot, and when to make a play and what type of pass to use, separate him from other young prospects.
He’s a big-bodied scoring threat with a devastatingly accurate wrist shot and a penchant for eluding detection, so when you combine the two, you get the desired result. From a skating perspective, he’s shown an improved stride, which allows him to go zone-to-zone in a hurry. But what’s been most impressive about his Liiga campaign beyond burying the puck has been the accuracy of his passes off the rush. Laine’s been dominating both his peers and those slightly senior in age for a while now, and by that we mean both physically and statistically. And though he was slotted behind countryman and fellow-2016 draft eligible Jesse Puljujarvi in most pre-season draft rankings, his early-season domination of a men’s league coupled with the aforementioned Puljujarvi’s concurrent struggles should continue to shift pre-draft rhetoric towards Laine’s corner. We think he’s the best winger in the draft, and the closest among any amateur draft prospects to becoming a regular in the NHL.
-Steve Kournianos, thedraftanalyst.com
- Best shot in the draft
- Goal scoring instincts
- Physical game
- Determination to score a goal
- Underrated passing abilities
- Can make fancy moves using his smooth hands
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Skating explosiveness
- Not the smoothest skater
Comparing an 18-year-old prospect with one of the best goal scorers in the NHL might be risky, but that’s how good Patrik Laine is. His elite shot, physical game and attitude off and on the ice reminds me a lot of Washington’s number eight, Alexander Ovechkin.
NHL comparison: Alexander Ovechkin
Risk: 1/5 Reward: 5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive = 10/10 Defensive = 5/10
2015/2016: U20 WJC gold medal
2015/2016: Liiga champion
2015/2016: Liiga best player in the playoffs
2015/2016: World Championship silver medal
2015/2016: World Championship MVP
Shots From the Slot (Interesting Notes):
What a year it has been for Laine. He won the Finnish Liiga’s best player award in the playoffs, U20 WJC gold medal, World Championship silver medal as well as the Worlds’ MVP title. And that list is only including titles/awards he won this year. We will probably not experience again that a player with so many seasonal achievements doesn’t go first overall.
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Independent Scout covering European Hockey and Prospects for TheHockeyWriters. Located in Switzerland and blogging on www.scouting-factory.blogspot.com. Opinions on blog are my own