So take yourself back to the 1987 Canada Cup if you’re old enough. Remember how it looked when Mario and Wayne were linemates? How glorious was that? Did you ever wonder how that might look on an NHL Team? Well we may very well see such a duo if the Oilers draft Patrick Laine according to McKeen’s latest draft rankings.
Check out this quote from said McKeen’s post:
“He looks like Mario when he’s carrying the puck,” noted one top scout during the U-20, and he wasn’t alone in that assertion. When asked for a comparison, Teemu Selanne brought up Lemieux as well, and McKeen’s chief amateur scout Grant McCagg was making the correlation between the two even before there were others echoing it…he first made the suggestion early on in the World juniors, and he hasn’t changed his mind. If anything it has only been reconfirmed.
MARIO LEMIEUX! My favourite player of all time! And Teemu Selanne is saying it to boot. When Teemu talks you listen. They spent many-a-year competing against each other at the NHL level and the international one.
That’s very exciting and could throw this whole draft for a loop. According to the same article Patrick Laine is also tearing up the SM-Liigga’s playoffs for Tappara. This is not common in Europe for a 17 year old to be such an impact player and we should be keeping an eye on Laine going forward.
I can’t honestly recall scouting a forward over 6-4 with a skill set as similar to Mario’s as Laine’s,” says McCagg. “The way he creates space when he has the puck, his hands, his release, his shot, his vision…maybe he’s not quite at Mario’s level…but he’s not that far off. He’s a tier above Rick Nash at the same age…and as we know both Nash and Mario were first overall picks. I have a hard time thinking anyone should be drafted ahead of him even if I really like Matthews a lot…I see a future 50-goal NHL scorer, maybe a 60-goal guy. I don’t see that same upside with Matthews.
So getting back to your memories. I want to reach back to some of them that are more recent. I want you to think about this season and the Oilers’ power play. I want you to think about every time the puck was put on a platter for Jordan Eberle and how everytime he would take his sweet-ass time picking the perfect spot before releasing the puck and lastly, I’d like you to look back and remember how many opportunites were wasted by players not being able to pull the trigger immediately upon receiving the puck and wasting a scoring chance…
Now let me offer you a memory of my own that relates to the Laine/Lemieux comparison.
The Pittsburgh Penguins of the early 90’s had the most devestating power play I’ve ever seen. They ran Mario Lemiux on the left-side wall and they’d move the puck around until he was open for a shot and nearly every time they (Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr, Paul Coffey, Kevin Stevens, Larry Murphy, etc) found him, that puck was in the net.
Fast forward to around :30 in that clip to see what I mean.
Patrik Laine is a right-handed left winger and if the Oilers were lucky enough to select him, what would that mean for Taylor Hall or Patrick Maroon?
Here’s a 5 minute highlight package from one game for Laine… I’m more or less in awe of how much he really does look like Lemieux. I get a bit of a Jagr vibe off of him too but Laine’s shot is a laser in every sense of the word. Could you even fathom a player who’s got the size and skills of Mario Lemieux but the shot and skating of Alexander Ovechkin? Honestly.
If you’re wondering what happened to the other Finn, Jesse Puljujarvi, here’s a quote about the difference between him and Laine:
He may be a solid two-way winger at the NHL level who never scores 30 goals,” suggested one scout. “He is a decent playmaker, and you have to love his competitiveness, size and skating ability, but will he ever be among the scoring leaders? I’m not sure he has that potential. I’m not seeing elite offensive or finishing skills.
When matched head-to-head versus Laine in the playoffs it has been quite apparent that he’s not in Laine’s stratosphere when it comes to offensive upside.
I don’t want the Oilers to use that pick on a player unless he’s an impact player immediately whether luck falls on their side and they’re able to get Matthews or Laine, that’s where my line is drawn. If they fall to third or lower I’d prefer they deal the pick for help elsewhere.
All I can do is let my imagination run wild at the thought of Connor McDavid feeding Patrik Laine passes and the Oilers actually scoring goals… Somebody might have to snap me back to reality soon…
What do you think? Does the Laine kid intrigue you? Do you think the Oilers should pick him over Matthews if given the chance? Let me know in the comments below!