Leading up to the 2016 draft and so far in Winnipeg Jets rookie winger Patrik Laine’s young career, he has drawn comparisons to elite goal scorers, including Washington Capitals captain and 500-goal man Alex Ovechkin. Now, Ovechkin himself is heaping the praise on the 18-year-old Finn.
“He’s a great scorer, obviously,” Ovechkin told reporters in Vancouver Friday ahead of the Caps’ game Saturday against the Canucks. “He can score 50 or 60 goals (in a season) if he’s going to continue to play like that.”
Laine has played as advertised through the first eight games of his NHL career, potting six goals and two assists. He already has a hat trick, a two-goal game and a post-goal celebration that had social media buzzing.
Laine’s uncanny goal-scoring ability can be attributed largely to his hard, accurate and quick-release wrist shot, which has accounted for five of his six NHL goals so far. His other goal came on a one-time slap shot.
Laine’s hot start to his career has Jets fans reminiscing of the days when Teemu Selanne was the talk of the town. By comparison, the teenager’s pace through his first eight games isn’t far off from Ovechkin’s. While Ovi started his career with 10 points on an eight-game point streak, both Laine and Ovechkin had six goals through eight games.
To Laine’s credit, he notched his first hat trick in his fourth game, while Ovechkin took until game 43 of his rookie season to record his first ‘trick.
To Ovechkin’s credit, he’s maintained the pace of his hot start through 800-plus NHL regular season games.
It may be lofty to expect an 18-year-old to keep up with the career pace of a future Hall-of-Famer, but it’ll be fun to watch Laine as he continues to carve his own path in the NHL.
Ovechkin and Laine will go head-to-head for the first time next week with a home-and-home set between the Capitals and Jets, starting in Winnipeg Tuesday night.