2016 Draft Top Prospect Patrik Laine on His Way to the NHL

LIIGA / Haastattelu
Patrik Laine has been said to be one the best prospects from Finland since Teemu Selänne.
Kuva © Miika Arponen
In addition to Aleksander Barkov, Mikael Granlund and Teemu Pulkkinen, there is maybe an even more talented generation coming after them. Tappara prospect Patrik Laine is one of the best of his age group in the world.

Seven U17 national team games, 12 goals and five assists. Hat tricks against the Czechs and the US. And these stats came from then-15-year-old Finnish forward named Patrik Laine.

In his club Tappara Laine scored 26 goals in the Junior A league. Only one player has ever scored at that pace at that age and that is - coincidentally - Laine's good friend and fellow top prospect Jesse Puljujärvi from Kärpät.

At the end of June Laine signed a three year Liiga contract with his youth club Tappara. He never even considered leaving to North American junior leagues, even though they have recently caught more and more attention in Finland.

- Didn't consider that at all. Finland is now my thing and I'll play here for a few years.

Not many 16-year-olds have played in Finnish Liiga but that's what Laine is aiming for.

- My goal is to break into the playing roster there next season. If I get a chance to show my skills, I just have to play well so that I can continue there. I definitely want to play against men next season.

- If I don't make it, I'll probably play in Mestis (Finland's second-tier league) or junior A.

Laine is not the only much-hyped prospect coming from Tappara in recent years. 2013 Florida Panthers 2nd overall pick Aleksander Barkov is also a product of the Tampere team.

- Barkov, like me, had some injury issues in spring and we trained together back then. I got to know him pretty well.

Laine has been featured on numerous sneak peek articles on 2016 NHL draft and has been mentioned as one the favourites to be a top pick.

- I haven't followed those at all. Good if they know who I am down there.

- Obviously NHL has always been my goal. That's what I work for, to get there. It's an extra boost for me that I know I could some day play there.

Laine arrived to the interview wearing a Capitals cap. His favourite team and player is thus not very difficult to guess.

- Capitals has always been my favourite team. If I get drafted, it would be great if it was by the Capitals.

Sniper with a big frame that's not afraid of physical contact. Sounds familiar? Similarities with a certain Russian superstar are not hard to find.

- Alexander Ovechkin has always been my favourite player. I have watched him play a lot. Would be great if I some day got to play with my idol!

Laine describes his playing style as Ovechkin-like.

- When I have the chance I try to put the puck in the net. And I have succeeded in that with quite a good percentage recently. I'm more a sniper than for example a playmaker.

- I also like to play physical. Of course it can't be the main thing because I have to spare energy for scoring too, but I always finish my plays.

Scoring is one of Laine's biggest strenghts but there are some aspects that need quite a lot of development too.

- My defensive game and playing without the puck need a lot of work. I shouldn't just stand there watching but be more active without the puck.

Laine is a part of Finnish U18 national team next season, but his goals are even higher.

- My goal is to play in the U20 World Championships in Canada next season. I know it requires me to become a regular in the Liiga, but if I can get there, why not the U20s too.

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