In the span of a year and one month, Finnish forward Patrik Laine produced a body of work that would be impressive for players even many years older than the 18-year-old winger.
Laine’s memorable year began with a silver medal playing for Finland at the 2015 U18 World Championship, a tournament in which he led all goal scorers and was named to the tournament All-Star team. Fast forward to the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship that took place in Helsinki, where Laine and his fellow countrymen won the gold medal, the second gold medal that country has won at the U20 in the past three years. Laine again led all goal scorers and was again chosen for the tournament All-Star team.
Jumping ahead to April, Laine competed for his hometown team, Tappara Tampere, in Finland’s Liiga, with that team winning the league championship. Laine was the top goal-scorer in the playoffs, and was named the playoff MVP after also being named Liiga’s Rookie of the Year for the 2015-16 season. Laine then capped off his very memorable year with a silver medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, a tournament in which he was named the Best Forward and MVP while once again earning an All-Star Team berth.
Quite an impressive haul, but Laine has one more mountain to climb before officially calling it a season. The 6’4″, 201-pound forward is eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft and is certain to be one of the top two players chosen in that draft. The question is, will Laine be the top pick, or will he go second to the Winnipeg Jets? The Toronto Maple Leafs hold the top pick, and it is thought that they will use it on Auston Matthews, but the Maple Leafs’ braintrust of Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello might take an extra few looks at Laine’s list of accomplishments before making that final decision.
Laine was in Buffalo for the 2016 NHL Scouting Combine earlier in June. He met with media during the testing session that ended the Combine, with some of his comments being captured in the Hockey’s Future video below.
Laine certainly produced a number of worthy highlights, some of which can be viewed below in this highlight reel from the 2015-16 Liiga campaign.
Laine is ranked second among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and is ranked second overall by ISS Hockey.