Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his rankings of the Top 30 draft-eligible prospects of 2016. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center here in Buffalo on June 24 and 25.
#2.Patrik Laine – RW, Tappara (Finland)
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A powerful winger with a heavy shot and soft hands around the net, Laine will bring the savory mix of size and pure sniping ability to whatever team drafts him. He is a natural right winger, but has shown an ability to light the lamp when going up and down his off-wing as well.
A wrecking ball with a lethal array of shooting skills, Laine is hard to knock off the puck when he gets galloping in open ice. He’s deadly when he sets up on the left side of the power play, but he has shown to be a very good breakaway finisher with the dexterity to stickhandle in tight.
Laine powers way into scoring areas without the puck, and while he is not considered to be overly aggressive, he isn’t shy about using his thick body to make a play. He’s very strong in battle along the boards and he knows when to keep cycling the puck and when to instinctively flash towards the net with sneaky playmaking ability.
From start to finish this past season, no other prospect in the 2016 class has improved their draft stock like Laine has. He will need to continue down the path of improving his acceleration and overall quickness as he works his way into an NHL role, and he’ll certainly need to become a more consistent performer, but he’s no longer thought of as a raw power forward.
When he’s good, he’s great, presenting a very appealing package near the top of the draft for any team looking to add size and scoring punch down the wings.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline and an updated organizational depth chart, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).