Stop me if you have heard this one, "Patrik Laine scored tonight for the Winnipeg Jets". If you’ve been paying attention to the Jets as of late, chances are you have heard that.
At this point, if you are following the NHL at all, chances are you’ve heard Laine’s name called in the last couple of weeks.
When he entered the league not even two full years ago, Laine was heralded as one of the next great players to take over the game. Through 140 games over nearly two seasons, the still teenaged Laine has done absolutely nothing to make anything think he isn’t going to be one of the game’s elite goal scorers.
What he has done over the last ten games, however, is taking everything to a whole new level.
Streaking at the right time
The Jets are one of the three teams that most believe are the best out west, and just about every expert believes that it will be one of Winnipeg, the Vegas Golden Knights or Nashville Predators to represent the conference in the Stanley Cup Final.
While the Golden Knights play in the Pacific Division, the Jets and Predators are currently in a battle for first place in the Central Division. With Nashville up by four points, with a game in hand, the gap is closing for Winnipeg to secure home-ice in a potential second-round matchup.
Laine is doing more than his part, as the 19-year-old second-year player has gone on a tear the past 10 games, and thanks to his play, Winnipeg has won eight of those contests.
In those games, Laine has scored a mind-blowing 14 goals in that span! He has scored eight of those in his last four games, all of which have been wins by the Jets. Laine has found success with the Jets' big trade deadline acquisition, Paul Stastny.
The second-year pro-assisted on Stastny's first goal as a Jet, with things settling how they were hoping, with the veteran helping out on three Laine goals since they were paired up together.
Against the New York Rangers, Laine scored the only three goals of the game, registering the fourth hat trick of his young career. He pitched in on all three goals against the Carolina Hurricanes, registering two goals and an assist.
Just how much better has Laine been, compared to the rest of the league?
Here’s a look at the top scorers using goals-per-60 minutes (G/60) played at 5v5, over their respective team’s last ten games, who also have a minimum of 75 minutes played.
Two things stick out. This list is very Central Division specific, AND it hasn’t even been close when it comes to Laine versus the rest of the league.
Early career success
With Alexander Ovechkin playing out the last part of his prime, Laine was thought as the one who could potentially slide into his place as the game’s best goal scorer.
Few would have predicted that he would have hit the ground running the way he has. Since he has come into the league, no player has scored as many goals as Laine, who has now registered 75 markers in his short career.
The 75 goals also have him in position to land in an even more elite company. It won’t be until April 19 that Laine will officially turn 20-years-old, no longer making him a teenager. After his goal against the New Jersey Devils, Laine pulled into a tie with Sidney Crosby for the fifth most goals as a teenager.
One more goal and Laine will tie Brian Bellows and Wayne Gretzky for third most. At his career pace for goals-per-game, Laine will likely fall shy of Dale Hawerchuk’s total of 85 goals. But if he is able to stretch this streak out for a few more games, Laine could easily finish with the second-most goals scored by a teenager in NHL history.
That's some awesome company for Laine to become a part of, and he's THAT good!
As The Hockey News pointed out, with just five more goals, Laine would become one of six players since 1990 to reach 80 goals in their first two seasons. Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros and Teemu Selanne were the five before him to do so.
Laine has the talent, and the flair to certainly fill Ovechkin’s shoes. That same flair will push Laine to create his own legacy, and in one of hockey’s hottest markets, looks to be a surefire elite superstar for the foreseeable future.
Is Laine the best goalscorer in the league already? Where would you rank him among the rest of the rising young stars in the game? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.