Position: Right wing
European team: Tappara (Finland)
Born: Tampere, Finland
Measurables: 6-foot-4, 206 pounds
2015-16 stats: 46 games, 17 goals, 16 assists, 33 points
Central Scouting rank: No. 2 (Europe)
Lowdown: In draft terms, Laine is this year’s Jack Eichel while Auston Matthews is Connor McDavid. Matthews is regarded by the majority as the No. 1 player, but the folks who say Laine is the best certainly have a case.
Laine (pronounced Line-a) did it all this season, dominating at the professional and junior level. Tappara won the championship in Finland’s top league after Laine put up 10 goals and 15 points in 18 playoff games. He then led Finland to the silver medal at the world championships, leading the tournament with seven goals and finishing fourth in scoring with 12 points. In January, a stacked Finnish team won the world juniors on home ice with help from Laine’s seven goals and 13 points in seven games.
Matthews is expected to go first because he’s a two-way center, but no one tops Laine for pure scoring ability. While he’ll certainly have a flaw or two in his game, scoring, size and physicality won’t be any of them.
They said it: “Laine is an extremely skilled winger with size, speed, hockey sense and competitiveness. He is a natural scorer who possesses an NHL-caliber shot. Laine is a tough competitor to play against and even harder to check. An offensive threat every time he is on the ice.” – Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting.
The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL Draft, which will be held June 24-25 in First Niagara Center.