W Patrik Laine (Tappara, Liiga)
Patrik Laine, a 6-foot-4, 207-pound forward from Finland, is the only player who could dethrone Matthews — at least in McKeen’s Hockey’s ranking. However, looking at the top-four independent scouting services, Laine sits in a different top-four position in each ranking. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked third among European skaters.
"Laine is a towering winger with a knack for scoring big goals. A good skater, albeit not the most agile forward in traffic. Has a set of soft hands combined with good vision, but prefers to use his swift and heavy shot. Able to find openings to use his shot. Likes to play physical, but doesn’t get carried away by hitting the opponents. Playing in pro ranks has matured his game considerably.(EP 2016)"
As a 16-year-old, Laine was a regular for LeKi in Finlands second-tier division in the 2014-15 season, but he also made his Liiga debut for Tappara in the same year. Today, Laine, a player who feels comfortable on both wings, is a big-time contributor for his team, having scored 13 goals and 27 points in 36 games so far this season.
Furthermore, Laine won the 2016 World Junior Championship with Team Finland and was named to the tournament All-Star Team. He had seven goals and 13 points in seven tournament games.
Unless a team in the top five prefers to pick a defenceman, Laine should not be selected later than third.
Potential: Elite Forward
Draft Range: 1-5
Next: RW Jesse Puljujarvi