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NHL Draft

Laine leads Tappara to Liiga championship, named MVP

NHL Draft prospect has two goals, three assists in 4-2 series win

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Right wing Patrik Laine, who could challenge for No. 1 in the 2016 NHL Draft, was named most valuable player of the Liiga playoffs after helping lead Tappara to the league championship Tuesday in Tampere, Finland.

Laine had one goal in a 2-1 victory against HIFK in Game 6 of the Liiga final. Tappara won the best-of-7 series 4-2.

Laine (6-foot-4, 206 pounds), No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters eligible for the 2016 draft, had two goals, three assists, a plus-3 rating and took 34 shots on goal in the six games.

Tappara had lost in the championship round to Assat in 2013, and Karpat in 2014 and 2015.

Laine, 18, set a new record for goals (10) by a teenager in the Liiga playoffs and finished with 15 points in 18 postseason games.

He had 17 goals, 33 points and 253 shots on goal in 46 regular-season games for Tappara. There are some scouts who believe Laine could give Auston Matthews, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's ranking of international skaters, a run for his money as the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Matthews played for Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league.

Laine scored seven goals for gold medal-winning Finland at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in January, tying Matthews for the tournament lead in goals scored. He finished with 13 points and was named to the WJC All-Tournament Team.

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