Patrik Laine has had an incredibly impressive season, and he keeps adding to his highlight reel at the 2016 World Championship.
In Finland’s opening game of the tournament, Laine, who has positioned himself as a top-three pick in the upcoming draft, had only 13:31 of ice time. While that doesn’t seem like a lot of time to operate in the first World Championship game of his career, the 18-year-old winger didn’t look the least bit out of place against Belarus. In fact, it looked like if he was given much more ice time, Finland may have been able to improve on their already convincing 6-2 victory.
If fans want to see what Laine can bring to the table, though, maybe the best example came early in the second period. Laine skated into the Belarus zone, slowed up, laid a perfect no-look backhand drop pass to Aleksander Barkov and then moved to the front of the net for a tap-in. It was a thing of beauty:
Barkov’s awareness to feed the puck back to Laine for a near empty-netter is excellent, but the presence of mind from Laine to make the subtle drop pass is what makes the play so impressive.
Laine is on his way to one of the best seasons of any draft-eligible player, and that includes Auston Matthews, who is almost guaranteed to go first overall to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 46 games against top Finnish competition this season, Laine scored 17 goals and 33 points and helped Tappara capture the Liiga championship. He was named Liiga rookie of the year, and was awarded the Jari Kurri Award as the post-season’s best player. That’s not to mention Laine scored seven goals and 13 points at the World Junior Championship as Finland won gold. Now, in his first World Championship, he has three points in one game played.
The Winnipeg Jets select second overall, and if they draft Laine, it looks like they’ll have an incredible talent on their hands.