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Has Patrik Laine improved?

Much has been made of Patrik Laine’s improved play this season. But has the winger actually improved?

2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic - Calgary Flames v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/NHLI via Getty Images

There is always interesting talk around Patrik Laine and for good reason. He has unbelievable talent, but also does not appear to help the team when he is not scoring. Unlike someone like Nikolaj Ehlers who manages to be the Winnipeg Jets best zone entry player, Laine sometimes lacked that secondary skill. This season he has become a better passer which has led to talk of him being a better all-around player. But has Laine actually become a better all-around player?

Season Team GP TOI CF CA CF% FF FA FF%
20162017 WPG 73 1035.9 874 960 47.66 669 727 47.92
20172018 WPG 82 1050.7 1041 1034 50.17 772 769 50.10
20182019 WPG 82 1066.5 926 1132 45.00 702 861 44.91
20192020 WPG 19 287.75 243 270 47.37 184 220 45.54

Based on the stats alone, Laine is still the player he was last season. What is truly concerning is he seems to have regressed completely from the player he was in his second season. Something happened that led to him regressing a whole lot and not really coming back to that form. He has improved a bit this year, but it is nominal at best.

I don’t know enough about hockey to say something is wrong with Patrik Laine. Maybe something changed in his playing style from before he was drafted to now. Maybe his second season was the anomaly and there is no way to get Laine back to being that player, but I don’t think that is true. Laine did look like a different player at the start of the season. It has not lasted, but there might be something there if it can be unlocked for an extended period of time.

The Jets are a team that needs all their players helping them. While Laine is really good at creating offence, he is not good at getting the puck to create offence. Is this something that can be changed or is Laine simply the player he is and nothing will ever change that? Should the Jets try and get him more involved in the play than he appears to be now?

I’m not going to get into the power play because the Jets seem to have a different power play strategy than the Washington Capitals do with Alexander Ovechkin and the power play has looked decent at times this year, so I am going to let sleeping dogs lie.

Truth is, Laine looks like a good offensive player who cannot drive play for the life of him. His second season hints that there might be something more there, but it has been a year and a bit and we have not seen that player since. So what now? Nothing, but hoping Laine one day gets back to that player he was in his second season and becomes a bigger asset to the Jets.