Patrik Laine a rare breed of sniper
Dave Sandford / National Hockey League / Getty

There's a cinematic quality to Patrik Laine, the antagonist.

He's a prototypical athlete harnessing boundless raw talent out of sight. He's understood just how good, how contrastive his skills are compared to those of his peers since long before he forced himself onto our radar. Perhaps slightly aggrieved, he believes, unequivocally, he's the most valuable asset available for selection at the NHL draft, and won't hesitate to communicate it. But his most powerful tool for disseminating that message is his outrageous attacking faculty on the ice.

Laine turned out an 18-year-old season for the ages. He represented Finland at three levels of international competition, racking up 22 goals and 14 assists in 24 games. He led Finland to gold in both junior competitions, and then was named most valuable player at the men's event, outshining a collection of the greatest hockey players on the planet - including reigning No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid.

And as you would imagine, his booming authority over the men's game extended to club competition. Laine posted solid regular-season numbers for a teenager, scoring 17 goals and 33 points, but didn't truly take flight until the playoffs. His production spiked as he tapped into his spectacular offensive arsenal, scoring 10 goals during Tappara Tampere's title run.

For his exploits, he claimed the Jari Kurri Trophy as Finland's postseason MVP.

But because the Toronto Maple Leafs are prepared to make Auston Matthews their champion, Laine's name will become synonymous with a different Finnish legend.

It's an understatement to say a lot has changed in the near quarter-century since Teemu Selanne scored 76 goals as a rookie with the Winnipeg Jets. As a result, the Jets - since reborn and now holding the second overall pick - would be satisfied with Selanne's single-season video-game total if Laine provided it over the course of his entry-level deal.

But there's reason to believe the dynamic Finn can, in today's NHL, be a similarly pure, multi-faceted impact finisher.

Laine is as determined as he is dynamic, an absolute load on the rush and deep in the offensive zone. Unlike many of the game's great talents - and the prospects available at the draft - he also has the rare ability to be as lethal at a standstill as he is with a full head of steam.

Winnipeg is about to cast a distinctive talent, and one unwilling to rest until considered second to none.

Patrik Laine a rare breed of sniper
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