It seems as those Patrik Laine is going through a bit of a rough sophomore season where everything is not coming as easy as it was last season and it is getting to him. He is not playing badly and he is shooting at the same rate as last year. He simply seems to be struggling because he is not amazing in every game. He is going through some growing pains and it is sometimes hard to watch.
It is hard to watch Laine struggle a bit this year, but the Jets are in a really good position for it to happen as they have a really solid top 6, Mathieu Perreault on the fourth line, and a solid amount of points in the bank. If there was a time for Laine to struggle, it is now.
It is important to remember that Laine is only 19. His birthday is not until April. He played in the SM-Liiga for one full season before coming over. He might have been the type of player that would have benefited from the AHL while also tearing it apart. He is the odd sort of tweener where he is young enough that it might have helped him in some ways to be able to play in a lower league, but he is capable of playing in the NHL.
What is interesting is he clearly feels like he is struggling this year. He has been open about having low confidence. The answer to this seems to be to move him to a lower line; not as punishment but to allow him to take some shifts against easier opposition. This is what happened against the Colorado Avalanche and he was back to looking like Laine of last year in the Jets next game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
In short, Laine is right where he should be at this point in his development. He will have some games where he looks a bit lost and overwhelmed and yet he can still score at will. He is young and there are times when he should probably be moved down in the lineup. The Jets might not have the best set-up for this as they have a traditional top six/bottom six set up.
Patrik Laine might be struggling a bit this year. He has admitted that his confidence is not always there, but he still looks like the type of player who can absolutely turn the tide in a game when he has the confidence in his abilities. He is one of the best young players in the league, even when he is struggling. More than anything, Laine needs patience as he works through his bouts of low confidence and becomes the player it is obvious that he is capable of becoming.