The Winnipeg Jets thanked their lucky stars when they got the #2 spot in the 2016 Draft Lottery, and already knew they would be the ones to grab Patrik Laine.
The Finnish winger has been compared to the likes of Alex Ovechkin, thanks to his huge side, excellent shot and overall scoring ability. However, there’s more to him than his heritage and likeness. Here are five things you may already know, but should know about Patrik Laine.
1. Laine started off young
Laine started playing hockey at the age of four in Finland and showed skills and progress from a very early age. Starting out, he played in Ilves at the age of four but later joined Tappara. He is one of the youngest players to play in Liiga and played six games with Tappara in 2014-15, registering one point. He put up 33 points in 46 games in 2015-16 and was one of the team’s leading scorers. He also scored eight goals in seven games during the IIHF World U18 Championships, where he gained a lot of his prominence.
2. He’s involved with the Winnipeg community
An eight-year-old Winnipeg Jets fan decided to invite Laine to his brithday party. He wrote out a note for him, which his uncle then posted to Twitter. Soon after, the note went viral.
— Marco (@marcopolo_1979) December 25, 2016
Though Laine was unable to attend the party, which had rinks and hockey, Laine made a special visit to Lucas a few days later. He brought multiple gifts, including Finnish chocolates, a signed jersey and a signed picture. It just goes to show how involved he is getting with the community and adjusting to life in North America.
— Marco (@marcopolo_1979) January 13, 2017
3. He’s Close with Nikolaj Ehlers
From the moment they first met each other, Ehlers and Laine formed a close bond, becoming fast friends. Though they are two years apart, both hail from Europe, and have great chemistry. Ehlers refers to him as a brother.
“You build some good chemistry, friendships and bonds with everybody in here, but with some, you just click a little bit better, both on and off the ice. He’s 18, I’m 20, we’re men, but we’re still kids. He’s a great guy and super fun to hang out with.” Ehlers told NHL.com.
Both share a great sense of humor and bounce off each other on and off the ice.
4. He’s Apparently a Gamer
Laine has been a huge asset for the Jets, adding scoring power, great on-ice awareness and speed to their top-six. However, there are skills he also takes off the ice, and he shares the secret to his success with his teammates.
Along with giving advice to his teammates, Laine has also shared traditions and stories about his Finnish heritage. According to Blake Wheeler, the 18-year-old is “pretty good” at video games, and though he hasn’t seen it for himself, his teammates acknowledge his gaming skill.
5. He’s a Bauer Athlete
Bauer announced in December 2016 that Laine signed a deal with the world’s top hockey brand. He originally sported a variety of different gear, ranging from CCM to Reebok. Now, he will be sporting a unified brand in a multi-million dollar deal.
“Patrik is an exciting and dynamic young player who has immediately made an impact on the NHL and the entire hockey community,” Mark-Kay Messier, Vice President of Marketing for Bauer, said. “…Patrik is a special player and is an athlete that will have a true global impact for our brand and the game itself for many years to come.”
He has been sporting Bauer gear and will likely have some new equipment when he plays in the 2017 All-Star Game this weekend.