As we draw closer to the draft, there’s only one player that’s come close to challenging Auston Matthews as the No. 1 overall pick — Finnish forward Patrik Laine.
On Tuesday, Laine crept up on Matthews even more.
The 18-year-old capped off a banner SM-liiga campaign by helping Tappara capture the Finnish league title, on the strength of 10 goals and 15 points in 18 games. Laine was awarded the Jarri Kurri trophy as the league’s playoff MVP.
At 6-foot-4, 209 pounds and armed with a dynamic shot, Laine’s had scouts drooling for quite some time. After a scintillating World Juniors — in which he helped Finland capture gold with 13 points in seven games — Laine went on to have a terrific SM-liiga regular season, posting 33 points in 46 games.
Of course, I could write and write and write about Laine’s exploits. Or I could post a video:
Laine is expected to be selected to Team Finland for the upcoming World Hockey Championships in Russia.
The Senators could be the latest NHL team to move their farm team closer to home.
Per the Ottawa Citizen, the club is looking to move its AHL affiliate from Binghamton to Belleville — the former site of the OHL’s Bulls, which is roughly a three-hour drive away from the Canadian capital.
More, from the Citizen:
The talk in AHL circles is the club is investigating relocating the franchise to the Yardmen Arena in Bellevile for the 2017-18 campaign.
If that happens, the belief is the Senators would try not to leave Binghamton empty-handed because the AHL considers it a strong market. It’s quite possible another NHL team could move its affiliate to Binghamton if the Senators are successful in negotiations with the city of Belleville and a potential buyer.
The Senators wouldn’t comment when contacted.
Should Ottawa complete the move, it would be in a similar situation to the rival Maple Leafs, who have their AHL affiliate, the Marlies, within spitting distance.
Belleville has been without a full-time hockey tenant since the Bulls moved to Hamilton last season.
So Ottawa’s potential move to Belleville wouldn’t just be filling a need — it’d also be in lockstep with what the NHL’s three California teams did last summer. All of them brought their AHL affiliates in-state: Kings moved theirs from Manchester to Ontario (California), the Sharks moved theirs from Worcester to San Jose, and the Ducks moved theirs from Norfolk to San Diego.