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Winnipeg Jets Patrik Laine: From Goal-Scorer to Assist Machine

The Winnipeg Jets Patrik Laine is having, for him, a different season. He has always scored more goals than assists, but this season he has more assists than goals and looks to top his career-best. How is his game evolving? Why is he an elite player?

According to Matias Strozyk, who reviewed Patrick Laine’s game on the hockey site Elite Prospects, he is a “natural scorer,” whose greatest asset is his intimidating shot. Although he isn’t a speedy skater by any stretch, because of his 6-foot-5 frame he has a long powerful stride and uses a long stick to protect the puck well.

Related: Winnipeg Jets News & Rumors: Injuries and Call-ups, Scheifele, Laine & Hellebuyck

Laine’s skating, although it’s been a bit of an issue, has become less so because – with experience – he’s learned to read the game better. Also, whether it’s a skill or not, Laine has the fire in his belly and work ethic needed to create chances on his own and he simply isn’t afraid to shoot.

And, can he shoot. His wrist shot comes off his stick quickly. And, like another youngster for the Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews – he has a powerful one-timer from the top of the circle.

According to elite goalie Carey Price, Laine’s shot gets by you before you know it.

Laine’s 2019-20 Season

This is Laine’s fourth season playing with the Winnipeg Jets. He’s having a good year, and is on a point-a-game pace; however, it’s a year different to others he’s had previously. Something’s changed in his game, and he seems to have turned from a high-goal scorer to a high-assist player.

During his three previous seasons, he’s scored more goals than assists and by a wide margin. In 2016-17, he had 36 goals and 28 assists; in 2017-18 he scored a career-high of 44 goals and 26 assists; and, last season he scored 30 goals and added 20 assists.

However, this season, it’s different. Laine is still scoring at a healthy clip – in fact at a point-a-game pace, which is something he’s never done over a full NHL season; however, his numbers are different. He has 14 goals, but he also has 21 assists as well. He’s certainly on pace to challenge his career-high of 70 points he scored in his second season 2017-18.

Laine’s Recent Games

Laine was injured early in November, but since he’s been back he’s been scoring regularly and at an even pace. In his team’s last game prior to the Christmas break, he scored a goal in a 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. It was the 21-year-old’s third goal in his last two games and gave him eight points in 10 games in December.

Laine’s been hot. He’s scored eight goals and 15 points in his last 13 games, but he hasn’t scored in bunches. In the team’s 6-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on December 21, his two goals were his first multi-goal game since October 10, which was also against the Wild. The two teams meet again early in the New Year (on January 4) and it will be interesting to see how he does in that game.

Laine reached the 20-assist mark for the fourth time in his four-year career. His best assist season so far has been 28 in his rookie season, but the tall Finnish player is almost certain to hit 30 assists this season.

Although he’s never had fewer than 30 goals in any season in his career, he’ll have to at least keep up the pace he’s on or improve it if he hopes to hit that mark in goals again. However, it seems unlikely he’ll reach his high mark of the 44 goals he scored in 2017-18.

Related: Winnipeg Jets Player News: Hellebuyck, Gustafsson, Wheeler, Connor, Laine & Little

What’s the Limit for Laine?

The Jets’ winger has taken his game to the next level this year, and his evolution into a playmaker has helped the team. The winger is averaging a point per game this year and could get back over the 70-point mark for the second time in his four-year NHL career.

That’s a huge improvement from last season’s 30-goal, 50-point campaign, which can probably be considered the low watermark for his career. If he stays healthy, he’ll certainly reach last season’s point total early in the new year.

Can he reach a new career-high and keep up that point-a-game pace? Well, maybe. That goal is more realistic now that he’s scoring at least as many assists as he is goals. He’s an elite player and the Jets are fortunate to have him in the team’s lineup.

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