CBJ Top 25 Under 25: Patrik Laine needs a bounce back season
Even after a disastrous 2021 campaign, the Finnish sniper is still near the top of the list.
Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had 102 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. We’ll be counting down the 25 highest voted players over the next five weeks. Up next: Patrik Laine
#2: Patrik Laine
2nd out of 38 eligible players
Writer Rank: 2nd
Reader Rank: 2nd
Highest placement: 1 (17 votes)
Most common placement: 2 (66 votes)
2019 rank: N/A
Birthdate: April 19, 1998
Birthplace: Tampere, Finland
Weight: 210 lbs
Position: Left Wing
Acquired: January 23, 2021: Traded from the Winnipeg Jets with Jack Roslovic to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 3rd round pick.
2020-21 Season Review
It was a year to forget for Patrik Laine. In 2021, Laine posted career lows in nearly every statistical category — albeit in an abbreviated season. In 46 games, he amassed a 12/12/24 statline, and a team worst -28. There was a little bit of everything in Laine’s first year in Columbus, including highlight reel goals, a fight, scoring droughts, a few benchings and lots of uninspired play.
I’m not a huge advanced stats guy, and while I understand and appreciate their purpose, I often find some of the graphics confusing. Thankfully, you don’t have to be an analytical guru to have an idea of whats going on here:
Laine will be the first to admit that his first season in Columbus was not good. In fact, he’ll tell you how relieved he was once the season finally ended and he could stop thinking about hockey altogether. The Finnish superstar was often a square peg in a round hole, and never really gelled and developed chemistry with his various linemates. That disconnect was not just limited to his teammates on the ice, but the voices behind the bench as well. In just his fourth game with the Blue Jackets, Laine was benched after making a “disrespectful comment” towards then-Assistant Coach, Brad Larsen. Throughout the season, both Patrik Laine and Head Coach John Tortorella kept it professional, but once it was clear Torts and the Jackets would be moving on from each other, Laine let his true feelings be known.
#CBJ Patrik Laine in a Finnish interview on this past season:— Jackets Updates (@jacketsupdates) July 13, 2021
“Forwards want to create offence. You have to “cheat” a little bit if you are going to be a top scorer. This is not possible if coaching thinks differently. But I do as they tell me to.” https://t.co/91XVpSNMBh
2021-22 Season Outlook
The good news is that it can only get better from here! Although it may not seem like it with that downer of a season review, I’m still quite optimistic about Patrik Laine going forward simply due to his all-world skillset. There is clearly a reason that the vast majority of Cannon readers considered him one of the top two players on this list.
At the end of July, Laine signed his $7.5m qualifying offer, putting him under contract for at least one more year with the club. It was mutually agreed upon to resume negotiations for a longer term deal once the season has begun and the bounce-back campaign was underway. He will get another chance to play top line minutes next season — most likely with newly acquired playmaker, Jakub Voracek — under a new coach who will allow Patty some leeway in terms of playing to his strengths (as he clearly desires). If Laine can put last years’ mess behind him and get back to doing what has made him successful so far, it shouldn’t be a stretch to expect 30-40 goals and 65-75 points.
It’s pretty safe to say this season will determine Laine’s future with the team and whether he will be a core piece of the rebuilt Columbus Blue Jackets.