2022-23 Player Review: Patrik Laine had a positive season bookended by a pair of injuries
Laine's health and conditioning is a major factor headed into next season
You can say Laine was the (literal) first domino to fall this year, kicking off a historic rash of injuries that sank the Blue Jackets' season early. Just three shifts after scoring the teams' first goal of the year, Patrik Laine took an awkward hip-check into the boards, and wouldn't see the ice again for almost a month. It only got worse from there for Laine and the Jackets. An ankle injury soon followed the elbow, and the season wrapped up with a triceps injury to end the year. It was just one of those years apparently.
In the brief stretches we saw from Laine, there were a lot of good things. Yes, we still saw some of the same turnovers with the puck, trying to gain the zone against multiple defenseman, but so much of his overall game seemed to be on the upswing. This year – albeit somewhat brief – continued the positive trajectory of Laine since joining the Blue Jackets and bottoming out.
In his 55 games, he nearly was a point-per-game player at .97 ppg, posting 52 points (22g, 30a). His offensive numbers ranked second in everything despite playing a shorter season. Laine also had the highest Corsi on the team (of players who actually played more than a handful of games), and it seemed apparent he had worked on the other parts of his game and wanted to prove it. He even took to playing center late in the season when the positional depth was non-existant. I gotta say I didn't completely hate it, but I would much prefer Laine wherever he is most comfortable to put the puck in the net.
Laine needs to have a big summer working on his conditioning and making sure he does everything in how power to give him the best chance at staying healthy. The Jackets will need their #1 center come October.
5v5 CF%: 49.85%
5v5 FF%: 48.76%
Laine just wrapped up the first year of his four-year contract he signed last summer. The contract carries an 8.7M AAV cap hit until the end of the 2025-26 season. Next year sees a modified no-trade clause go into effect. Laine is here for the foreseeable future and needs to be a big piece of this puzzle.
The star winger posted his 10th career hat trick against the Detroit Red Wings on January 14th. Even more impressive was that he did in just over one period of hockey. The Laine-Roslovic-Gaudreau line was humming that night, and Laine was the main beneficiary of some silky passes that he slapped his patented one-timer on, leaving the Red Wings goalie little chance. It may not include Roslovic next year, but thats what we need to see a lot of more of from Laine and Gaudreau.
Game 1. You can say it was an ominous sign of things to come for the Blue Jackets and Laine when we went awkwardly into the boards in game one and suffered an elbow injury that cost him almost a month. Sadly, that was just the first of many setbacks last year. As mentioned above, he started the year with an injury and ended with one as well. Sandwiched between those depressing bookends was an ankle sprain suffered shortly after he returned from the opening night injury. Just to add insult to all of his injuries, after Christmas he was entered into the Covid protocol and missed a couple games.
Laine played well enough when he was in the lineup, but the biggest problem was that he wasn't in it enough.
No major complaints really to be had on his performance when healthy. Laine does need to stay healthy and keep up similar pace of scoring, while continuing to grow the other aspects of his game. The Jackets need him to be a leader on this young team, and a star like him should be a lead with both his play and his preparation.