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NHL Draft

Knee discomfort not expected to affect Laine's status

Projected top-two pick unable to complete lower-body testing at Scouting Combine

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO -- The left knee discomfort felt by forward Patrik Laine during the 2016 NHL Scouting Combine is not expected to affect his status entering the 2016 NHL Draft.

"Absolutely not," Calgary Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button said Saturday. "Unless they say he can never play and then he won't get drafted. ... I didn't see [what happened] but I don't think it's going to affect him long-term so he still is what he is."

Laine, expected to be a top-two selection in the draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center here on June 24 and 25, felt discomfort in his left knee Friday during the VO2 max bike test.

Laine, who had surgery on his left knee in 2013, said he began feeling the discomfort in his leg eight minutes into the VO2 test, when the resistance on the bike is at its highest.

"I couldn't finish [the tests] because I had some problem with my leg, but I think it went pretty normal otherwise," Laine said Friday. "I'm OK. I didn't finish the test because I just don't want to get hurt; I have an important summer and I don't want to miss that."

The discomfort precluded Laine from doing any of the lower-body workouts during the combine fitness testing Saturday. Teams won't get another chance to physically test Laine, but they are allowed to bring him in for further medical evaluation.

Video: Get to know top NHL Draft prospect Patrik Laine

"Even if it's three years ago, we like to figure it out, have our doctors take a look at it, make sure things are structurally sound," Button said. "We drafted a kid a couple years ago that had a shoulder injury and knew he'd need surgery, so you just have your doctor look at all the stuff and make sure it's all good going forward."

Tampa Bay Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray said input from the medical staff goes into the final decision on personnel.

"I think it depends more on the medical people than the scouting people," he said. "The scouting people give their evaluations on him as a player, the medical people tell you if it's a problem or not, so that's kind of the protocol you take in a situation like that."

Laine, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters, finished his season on a high. He helped Tappara win the championship in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, and was named playoff MVP. Then Laine helped Finland win the silver medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship and was named the tournament's best forward and MVP. He also was added to Team Finland for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Players "have things all the time," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "But a player of that caliber, we know what he is. If he needs recovery time, he needs recovery time. The important thing now is to err on the side of caution and not aggravate anything further."

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