Less than a week after becoming the first man to score five goals in one game since Johan Franzen back in February of 2011, Patrik Laine scored his 100th goal at the of age 20, becoming the fourth youngest in history.
Needless to say, Laine has had a thrilling start to his third season in the NHL which is exactly what the doctor had ordered for the young Finn after a bit of a letdown in the playoffs. Could this be the year where Laine tops the scoring charts?
Laine was drafted at No. 2 in the 2016 Draft after his first year of professional hockey at Tappara in the Finnish Liiga, scoring 33 points in 46 games at the age of just 17. The winger went on to knock the socks off the NHL, scoring 36 goals in his rookie season, taking that tally up to 44 in his second season, finishing second behind Alexander Ovechkin.
Right now, Laine is on track for 71 goals this season, and though he is likely to cool off at some point, the 60-goal mark does not seem out of the realm of possibility. Reaching that threshold would be only the third time it has happened in this century, with Steven Stamkos doing it in 2011/12 and Ovechkin in 2007/08.
It would be the aforementioned Ovechkin that Laine would overtake as the best shooter in the league, establishing himself as a truly elite player at a very young age.
All of that said, the Winnipeg Jets have overall regressed so far in 2018/19. The Jets are already trailing the second-placed Colorado Avalanche by four points in the Central Division, while they are tied with the Minnesota Wild, and ahead of the Dallas Stars by just one.
The biggest area of struggle in Winnipeg has been the net. Connor Hellebuyck has not lived up to the big contract he received over the summer, putting up a 3.09 GAA and a .904 save percentage, 2% lower than last year.
The defense has also not stepped up to support Hellebuyck in his struggles, but an even bigger issue is supplemental scoring. Outside of Laine, Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and Nikolaj Ehlers, no one has scored more than five goals in 24 matches. Ehlers only joined the club after scoring a hattrick against the Chicago Blackhawks in their most recent game.
Overall though, Winnipeg should not be worried. They are a young team with many players yet to improve, and a likely goal-scoring leader at the top with Patrik Laine.
Though they might miss out on getting into the playoffs directly, they will probably get a wildcard spot, as the Pacific Division seems rather weak this season. Once they get into the playoffs, anything can happen, especially with a player like Patrik Laine.
Where do you think Winnipeg will end up? Do you think Laine breaks 60 goals? Let us know in the comment section below, and make sure to follow us on Twitter (@VAVELNHL_ENG) for more updates!