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Game #26 – Hawks vs. Jets Spotlight: Patrik Laine Is In Your Ears And In Your Eyes

He might look like something out of a Tolkein novel or a B-movie, but Patrik Laine has the chance to be something we’ve never seen before. And no, we don’t mean those dust bunnies he calls a beard or that vacant, kid-wh0-farted-in-the-pool look on his face all the time (that seems to be common among the Finnish. What goes on over there?). To be fair, Laine might be the freakiest looking all-time great when it’s all said and done. Then again, Alex Ovechkin looks like something out of Warhol’s discard pile. But let’s stick with his goal-scoring for now.

Since he came into the league two season ago, Laine has 99 goals. He’s only bested by Ovechkin’s 100 in that time, and there’s no one else within 10 goals of either of them. Laine has also missed 10 games in that time, so without that he’d be the leading scorer in the league since he stepped in it. And the way he’s going, he’ll probably have that title by the time tonight’s game is over.

The difference between Laine and Ovie is how they go about it, though it feels like they do it the same. Both like to post up at the “Ovechkin Spot,” which one day could be renamed for Laine. But that doesn’t quite cover it. Ovechkin does it through sheer volume. He’s had seasons where’s he’s averaged five shots-on-goal per game, and usually is around four per game. For his career it’s 4.85 shots per game. There’s no one in his stratosphere when it comes to producing attempts on net.

Laine isn’t near that. He’s averaged just 3.02 shots per game. Laine gets there through accuracy. Ovechkin’s career shooting-percentage is 12.5%, and until this season (he’s currently at 20%), Ovie has never come close to Laine’s lowest SH%. Laine has carried a career 18.4 SH%. In the past 20 seasons, when you can just about label as the time goalies no longer were the drunk janitors they had been before, Laine’s career SH% ranks behind only Alex Tanguay and Dmitri Khristich (somehow).

Laine will probably overtake them. His shooting-percentage has improved every season, from 17.6 to 18.3 last year to 20.2 right now. Laine, even if he just holds where he is, will go down as the game’s most accurate shooter in history. Yes, Mike Bossy had a career 21.2% mark, and Laine may get there, but Bossy never had to take down the talent in net that Laine sees every night. Again, the inebriated custodial staff in net in the 80s across the league. Laine and Ovechkin would have put up 150 goals a year in that time…and then taken March off out of sheer boredom.

Which may turn into a headache for the Jets, depending on just how firm Laine and his reps are about getting a contract that’s fair to him. The Jets are inundated with free agents after the season. Brandon Tanev, Andrew Copp, Kyle Connor, Nic Petan, and Jacob Trouba all require new paper when the season is over. The Jets already have $56 million committed for next season. Laine’s agents would have no problem asking for McDavid money, and they’d be right to do so.

When Ovechkin got out of his first contract, the Capitals handed him a max deal. In today’s $, that’s $12.7M. Which would eat up half the space the Jets have to sign the rest of that crew.

There’s no reason for Laine to give the Jets a break, unless he’s just that nice of a guy. Because he’s got a chance to be something unique in league history. That’s not the kind of shit you get at a bargain.


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