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2016 NHL Draft Profiles: Could Patrik Laine pull-ahead of Auston Matthews?

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Patrik Laine has burst through the draft rankings this year and it kinda makes sense for him to possibly go first overall.

Patrik Laine gets interviewed shortly after Tappara wins the Finnish Liiga.
Patrik Laine gets interviewed shortly after Tappara wins the Finnish Liiga.
Patrik Bexell

Patrik Laine has been nothing but dominant in the Finnish league this past season. While the spotlight only recently turned on him as he became draft eligible, his talent has been growing over the years.

Born in Tampere, Finland, the 18-year-old is currently 6'4" 209 pounds. There have been many debates about where exactly Laine will go in the draft. Second overall seems to be the consensus, but some think he should even go before the highly praised Auston Matthews. Wherever he goes in the nearing 2016 NHL Draft, he will bring an incredible scoring edge to the team lucky enough to select him.

Patrik Laine - Left Wing - Tappara (Finnish Liiga)

2015-16 Stats - 63 GP - 26 G, 21 A, 12 PIMs

Laine's career in Liiga started in 2014-2015, though it lasted for only six games. He spent the entirety of the 2015-2016 season with Tappara, aside from his time at the 2016 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. During the regular season campaign he recorded 17 goals and 16 assists for a total of 33 points in 46 games.

However it is not the number of points that he has accrued that has made him stand out to scouts. It is his pure scoring prowess that has made him such a target. After a strong performance at the 2015 IIHF World U18 Championships, where Laine scored eight goals in seven games, and an even stronger 2016 World U20 Championships, Laine rose to the top.

At the 2016 World Juniors, Laine had an impressive showing where he displayed his dominant ability to create scoring chances. He finished as the third-leading scorer with seven goals and six assists in seven games, and was named to the tournament all-star team.

Laine is known widely for his natural scoring ability. His ability to read the game, paired with his wrist shot quickly peaked the interest of scouts. After such a strong performance on a national stage many started to wonder if he might have the skill and threat level to jump Auston Matthews for the first overall draft position.

Most recently Laine's team Tappara took home the Finnish Liiga Championship title for an incredible 16th time since 1953. During his playoff campaign he scored nine goals and five assists for 14 points in 17 games. But what is more noteworthy is the type of goals that Laine scored. He scored three last minute goals in Games Four, Five, and Six in the semifinals, and he set a record of seven goals in a single rookie playoff campaign. For his efforts in the tournament Laine was awarded Jari Kurri trophy for the best player in Liiga Playoffs.

It's still highly likely that Auston Matthews goes first overall in this year's Draft. But Laine's excellent finish to the season has opened the door for Patrik Laine to become the first Finn and second Scandinavian (after Mats Sundin in 1989) to go first overall at the NHL Entry Draft.