No hard feelings between top draft prospects Matthews and Laine

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At last weekend’s draft combine, Finnish forward Patrik Laine got people talking when he proclaimed that he’d be the next Alex Ovechkin in five years. Laine also believes he’s the top prospect in the draft.

Does Laine’s talk bother fellow draft Auston Matthews? Nah.

“I let my actions speak for my words,” Matthews said, per TSN.ca. “It’s his personality. I feel I’m a good player. I could sit here and say I’m the best player, but I’m not going to split hairs.

“Everyone has their own right to their own opinion. That’s his. He doesn’t mind expressing that. There’s really no problem with that. We’re all here to just enjoy the process. Everybody here, they’re all good guys. To get to know them, we all come from different places, so it’s definitely pretty cool.”

Many people around the game expect Matthews to be the top pick in this month’s NHL Entry Draft, with Laine being picked second. As it stands, that would mean both players would end up in Canadian markets. Toronto owns the top pick in the draft, while Winnipeg will make the second selection.

On Monday, Matthews, Laine and a few of the other top prospects got to rub elbows with some of the players suiting up in this year’s Stanley Cup Final. Matthews got to speak to Sharks forward Joe Thornton. The two have a few things in common. They’re both big centermen and they both spent time playing in the Swiss league. If Matthews is selected first overall in a few weeks, they’d have that in common too.

“He’s been an unbelievable player for a long time,” Matthews said of Thornton. “We were talking about Switzerland and just the experience I had there. He was saying to enjoy this, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s cool to come here and take part in this. I’ve never been to a Stanley Cup final game before. Just looking at how calm and cool they are — it’s pretty eye-opening.”

If Matthews can have a similar career to Thornton’s, whatever team ends up taking him will be thrilled.