Patrik Laine has been compared to Alexander Ovechkin, Teemu Selanne and Brett Hull over the past six months. In other words, no, you’re not going to catch people off guard if you take him in your fantasy hockey pool.
Part of the beauty of small-market franchises like the Jets is that their best players can sometimes slip under the radar on draft day. Laine will not. The hype surrounding him both inside and outside Winnipeg is immense, and you only need to watch one interview to realize he doesn’t do under the radar.
What he does do, and has done at every level he’s every played at, is score. A lot. He can score any way you like, bulling his way to the net with his speed and size or using his hands to create a chance out of seemingly nothing, but his preferred method of putting up goals is a blistering shot. The Jets don’t really have a shooter like Laine anywhere in their lineup, but they shouldn’t feel bad about this. After all, most teams don’t.
— ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) June 3, 2016
So what can the Jets and fantasy owners expect from the man who could be the next Finnish Flash in his rookie season? The same thing you can expect of a lot of rookies: ups, downs, a steep learning curve and, in spite of all that, some excellent fantasy value at the end of the day.
Heart of a Laine
As was the case with Mark Scheifele’s fantasy value, you’ll find Laine more useful to you in leagues that weight goals over assists. Laine is very much a shoot-first player, and from the World Juniors to the Men’s Worlds to his time with Tappara in the Finnish Elite League, his goals outnumber his assists in almost every league he’s played in.
Then again, if you can shoot the way he can, why wouldn’t you be a shoot first player? It’s not unusual for wingers to play that way, and with all the success he’s enjoyed it’s hard to imagine Laine changing his playing style now.
You may have noticed that this goal came on the power play, and that’s a common theme with Laine. His presence is expected to help revitalize a Jets power play that was absolutely horrid last season, and if you watch his highlights you’ll find them filled with tallies on the man advantage. In many of them, he’s doing his best impersonation of Ovechkin and Stamkos as he uses their tried and true tactic of posting up for a one-timer at the top of the left circle.
It was hard to choose just one clip out of all the existing ones but by now the point is well-made. Laine is a shoot-first goal scorer with a potent one-timer and a penchant for power play goals. If your league places weight on either of those things or has separate categories for them as Yahoo leagues tend to, Laine could be worth more than his (already likely high) initial point totals would suggest.
And what are those totals going to be exactly? In their recently published pool guide, The Hockey News predicted Laine would hit 26 goals and 46 points. While the pattern of his career would indicate he will score more than he will set goals up, I’m going to take this prediction a little further and say Laine is capable of hitting 30 goals in his rookie season.
While I’m often the optimist where the Jets are concerned, I’m not the only one who thinks 30 goals for the rookie is within his grasp.
Yes, playoffs for Jets. Patrik Laine will score 27-31 goals. https://t.co/lnIcY9SkCC
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) June 11, 2016
It’s worth noting that The Hockey News and John Buccigross predict the Jets will squeak into a playoff spot this year, so it’s easy to see that Laine has done a lot to revive the optimism among others regarding the Jets. Whether there’s playoff hockey in Winnipeg this April or not, expect Patrik Laine to attack this season with the same zeal he’s shown throughout his career, and the same offensive punch.