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NHL Draft Lottery Profiles: Patrik Laine (LW, Tappara Tampere, Finland)

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Jesse Puljujärvi's friend and rival, Finnish champion, Finland's other great hope and scoring sensation, Patrik Laine is the second of the two Finns in the top three ranked players for lottery-winning teams to consider.

Tomi Hänninen

Yesterday, we discussed the terrible beauty of Jesse Puljujärvi Today, in the second of our top-three-ranked profiles ahead of Saturday's NHL draft lottery, we look at his compatriot, Patrik Laine.

The first thing to bear in mind here - Laine is not the same player as the Karpat winger.

However much draft analysts want to bracket the two together, Laine and Puljujärvi are very different and provide very different attractions to an NHL team.

They are superficially similar (both tall, strong young wingers with excellent shots and strong experience of playing against men in the Finnish Elite League) and to the scouts, too, they seem similar, with the same talk of explosive play, the same speed, the same lethal shot.

But they are not.

In fact, Laine and Puljujärvi are like peanut butter and jelly, yin and yang, smoke and fire.

They go together perfectly, but they are also both superb in their own right. But they are very different things.

To see that, you only have to watch their partnership in the Finnish u-20 team.

Puljujärvi is the team player. He's the player who you rely upon to play a pass, make a check or, yes, score a goal when you need one.

Laine, however, is more specialised - a pure goalscorer. If his compatriot is an assault rifle, capable of doing many jobs in many different ways, Laine is a Barrett .50 - a monstrous sniper rifle specialised for fulfilling one, lethal purpose in one, lethal way. His shot is an unholy Grendel-like thing forged by the Nordic gods deep in the ice and snow of the Finnish mountains - an unholy monster that can terrify anyone and destroy them just as quickly. Watch this highlight video and you'll see one of the purest, most beautiful methods of propelling a puck towards a goal at speed anyone has possessed in a generation, shown to best effect time and time again.

In that video, you can see Laine's speed, his smooth skating and stickhandling, but more than anything, you can see that to him his stick exists primarily for one purpose - as a vessel to hold and transmit his shot. Given any time and space, he is always heading for the net at speed, or waiting for someone to give him the puck so he CAN head to the net at speed.

Look at the 3-on-3 sequence around 4 minutes in that ends with Laine scoring the OT winner for Tappara. He's only got one gear, and that is full attack, to the point of tunnel vision. That is the kind of play that fans love.

Laine is also calm. Supernaturally calm. Again in that three-on-three sequence, observe how he heads from one end to the other, outpaces his team-mates and then calmly circles the net waiting for them to join him in the zone. He's reluctant to give up the puck, but does so only where necessary. If he can shoot, he will.

In fact, his shot has become such a weapon that Tappara's PP (and indeed Finland's) now essentially revolves around five words.

"Get the puck to Laine".

That is the kind of play that's seen him score 17 goals for Tappara this season, and lead his team in goalscoring at the WJC.

But again, the question remains. With specialisation comes the disadvantage that you need everything else to be in place to do your job. A sniper rifle is quiet, deadly and effective, just like Laine, but it still needs someone to load it.

So does Laine.

Scouts speculate that he'll fit best on a team with an elite playmaking center, which has led Edmonton Oilers fans to salivate like Pavlov's dog at the thought of pairing him with Connor McDavid. However, if he doesn't end up with the Oilers, then it'll be interesting to see just how Laine develops in a league that provides a much tighter, more organised test defensively and much more emphasis on shot-blocking than the free-flowing, open Finnish league.

He is a truly great goalscorer, is the big boy from Tampere-and he's proved it this season, coming from relative obscurity to force his way into the number-one spot talk, ahead of the more complete Puljujärvi.

But now that everybody knows his name, the question will be if he can sustain it for the team that drafts him.

With that shot, he'll always have a chance.