The Draft Lottery sent the Winnipeg Jets rocketing up to the second overall selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. This marks the highest selection since the franchised moved to the Central Canada, which also suggest the Jets 2.0 are about to garner their best prospect addition yet.
The general consensus is Patrik Laine will be the best skater available at the second overall pick.
Let’s take a look at what this blue-chip winger has to offer.
Size: 6’4, 209 lbs
If you had to explain Laine in short, it would goal scorer extraordinaire.
At only 17-years-old, Laine put up 17 goals over 46 games in the men’s pro league, the Finish Liiga. This places Laine sixteenth in the league for goals and sixth in goals per game. Over at the World Junior Championships, the big winger put up a goal per game pace and co-led the tournament with Auston Matthews.
At a 0.75 point per game pace between regulation and playoffs, Laine has out scored his draft peer Jesse Puljujarvi. To compare, the last big player to come from the SM-Liiga was Aleksander Barkov, who scored at a 0.91 point per game pace.
Sources have speculated that, with the Jets recent accumulation of smaller skilled players like Nikolaj Ehlers and Nicolas Petan, the team would be looking to add size with skill at the draft. At 6’4 and over nearly 210 lbs, Laine has size and strength in spades.
This combination of size and goal scoring prowess has elicited high end comparison to a players like Ilya Kovalchuk, although Laine does not have quite the speed that Kovy did at the same age.
Regardless, the Jets are picking up a dynamic winger who should fit in with the Jets plethora of young skill on the wings like Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Marko Dano, and Joel Armia.
What some of the scouts are saying:
A natural scorer, Laine’s greatest asset is his intimidating shot. He’s not a speedy skater, but possesses power and a long stride, and protects the puck well with his large frame and longer stick. Overall, skating has been a minor issue through Laine’s development but has improved with some help from his ability to read the game. Laine has the hunger to create chances on his own from the wing and actively looks for and creates opportunities to use his shot. His elite wrist shot is notable for its quick release and his powerful one-timer from the top of the circle is a constant threat on the man-advantage.
The big forward has some soft hands and a deadly shot that makes him extremely dangerous from the hash marks in. He moves well although it takes him a bit to get going and is offensive minded. Plays physically when needed, but is not a nasty checker or a natural fighter. Is near impossible to contain and can use his impressive frame to power his way through traffic to the net for a scoring chance.
A typical power-forward, Laine (6-4, 206) has an intriguing combination of size, skill and strength to complement his soft hands and big shot. Laine has eight goals, 16 points, 136 shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in 24 games for Tappara in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. He averages 16:25 of ice time and is viewed as a two-way player with great offensive instincts and a nose for the net.
I was pretty sure about (Matthews) him going first overall for nearly all the season, but now I’m not so sure and think the World Championship in Russia will finally decide this race. This has nothing to do with Matthews’ performances, as he performed very well all season long including the playoffs, but Laine did just explode during the WJC U20 in Finland and now in the Finnish playoffs where he grabbed the MVP award and scored a lot of goals in clutch situations. Personally, I think Laine has the biggest upside in the draft because he is already so effective, although he still has some rough edges in his play and I think he still can improve his skating a bit more than Matthews. If all this happens, I guess Laine has the slightly higher ceiling.