Like it or not, we are going to be talking about the draft again in Edmonton this spring. Unless the Edmonton Oilers plan on going all ‘Ralston Purina St. Louis Blues’, they are very likely to be sitting front row, feature table. The good news? Some outstanding players are available.
#Liiga: LW Patrik Laine (2016) wristed home another goal on opening shift and added 1a but Tappara lost to TPS, 3-2. Goals in 3 straight.
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) September 25, 2015
By the fall of 2015, Laine was known to those of us who follow the draft via flowery scouting reports and good boxcars in the SM-Liiga, Finland’s pro league. Steve Kournianos has certainly been vocal in his praise for the player, as his website shows:
Kournianos: Laine’s become the best power winger prospect in the Finnish Elite
League, and all before his 18th birthday. 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. Source
I recommend clicking on the link, a very interesting story about Laine is contained inside.
Patrik Laine’s English is also already pretty good for someone that young and not living in NA, respect! https://t.co/mJjZtTfqsT
— Thomas Roost (@thomasroost) January 24, 2016
Early in the season, Red Line report looked at Laine and compared him to countryman Jesse Puljujarvi:
Red Line: “Puljujärvi is clearly the stronger skater of the two and he will always
have an advantage in this very important aspect of the game, but I
think Laine is the one who’s showing more offensive talent and upside.
Laine has better puck possession skills in the offensive zone, his dekes
are more effective, his reach is greater and he uses his size better.
Laine is a bit smarter offensively, he’s better at controlling the pace
of the play and his scoring touch is on a higher level. There are still
obvious consistency issues, but overall he looks more dangerous in the
offensive zone than Puljujärvi. “Overall Puljujärvi has performed quite
well and is getting involved every shift, and through ten games no
opposition goals have been scored while he’s been on the ice. But
generally speaking, he hasn’t looked like an unstoppable offensive
threat that’s dangerous almost every shift. He’s generating some good
scoring chances, but not enough to really stand out in comparison to his
HOW GOOD IS HE?
We have an interesting top of the charts this season, as the three best forwards available are all playing in substantial pro leagues in Europe. Time on ice impacts these young men, but it is interesting to see how each is performing in their respective leagues:
- Auston Matthews 28GP, 21-15-36 1.29 (NLA, Switzerland’s top pro league)
- Patrik Laine 29GP, 11-10-21 .724 (SM-Liiga, Finland’s top pro league)
- Jesse Puljujarvi 36GP, 7-10-17 .472 (SM-Liiga)
One of the very difficult things to suss out is the strength of these leagues. Rob Vollman of Hockey Abstract ranks the Swiss League ahead of the Finnish league at this time. Source
Strong game for Patrik Laine today, made a lot happen. Liiga’s 5th ranked Tappara played him over 22 minutes in a regulation game.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) January 17, 2016
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I think it is reasonable to say any NHL team would be thrilled to get Patrik Laine and that he should go inside the top four overall (three mentioned, and Keith Tkachuk’s boy). Craig Button, TSN’s draft guru, says this about the two Finns:
Button: As for Puljujarvi and Laine, both currently skating in the
Finnish Liiga, it’s a coin flip for me. Puljujarvi may have a more
well-rounded game, whereas Laine may have more flair. I don’t know who
is the better prospect at this time and may never know with any real
confidence, but it’s safe to say you can’t go wrong with either one of
He has Puljujarvi No. 2, and Laine next in line. I think we have this player surrounded at this time, with the season still underway and spikes or downturns possible.