This is part of Jets Day at PHT…
The Winnipeg Jets missed the playoffs by nine points last season, resulting in the second overall pick in the NHL Draft.
With the pick, the Jets took Patrik Laine, the six-foot-four-inch, 206-pound prospect forward just oozing with goal-scoring talent that made him a lock as a top-three selection in the months leading up to the draft. Another Finnish Flash in Winnipeg, perhaps?
The Toronto Maple Leafs retained the first overall pick in the lottery and eventually took Auston Matthews at No. 1. But behind the Leafs, the Jets also had a huge day for their franchise. They had the sixth best odds at grabbing the No. 1 overall selection, and moved all the way up into the No. 2 spot, eventually landing Laine, a player that has been compared to NHL sniper Alex Ovechkin.
When there are comparisons to Ovechkin, who has hit the 50-goal plateau seven times in his NHL career, the pressure is on.
(The expectation he could be like Ovechkin is one Laine has, himself, put out there. He doesn’t lack confidence.)
The Jets have some very promising prospects in their organization, or already playing for the big club, and the selection of Laine and signing him to his entry-level deal only adds more talent to the pool in Winnipeg.
After the 2015-16 season Laine had, winning gold at the world juniors for Finland and being named MVP for the Finnish league playoffs, the next logical jump would be to the NHL. And it appears the Jets are going to give him the opportunity right away to earn his spot.
“We’re going to put him on the ice, we’re going to put him with good players and we’re going to give him an opportunity. And then he’s going to grow and we’re going to enjoy watching him,” said head coach Paul Maurice in July.
“This is a special player. Winnipeg should be excited.”
Laine is coming off what the Jets called “minor” knee surgery following the NHL scouting combine and was kept off the ice during the team’s development camp last month. Laine started experiencing discomfort in his knee during the VO2 max bike test at the combine and was then restricted to just upper-body tests for the remainder of the event.
However, it appears he will be ready to play in the upcoming World Cup, as he will once again represent Team Finland, beginning Sept. 17.
“I’m not going to skate for a while. Just before the World Cup,” said Laine, as per the Winnipeg Sun. “I don’t need much time to be on the ice. I’m going to work off the ice, work hard and I think the skating will come after that.”