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Laine won't 'kiss everybody's ass' when compared to top centers

Jason Mowry / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine believes he can keep up with with the likes of Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, and Sidney Crosby as he transitions to playing center.

"I'm not going to start kissing everybody's ass or pumping everybody's tires," Laine said Tuesday, according to Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch. "I know I can compete with those guys and that's why I want to do this in the first place."

Laine will be Columbus' first-line center to start the season after playing the vast majority of his career on the wing. The 25-year-old has struggled in the faceoff circle throughout his seven seasons, averaging 32.5%, though he's only taken 246 draws in that span.

He's had difficulties defensively over the last three seasons, averaging a 17/100 by Evolving-Hockey's defense metric, though he posted a 69 in the 2022-23 campaign.


The Blue Jackets have veteran pivot Boone Jenner and promising rookie Adam Fantilli at the center position, but they don't have much depth down the middle beyond that.

Laine has performed well offensively of late, notching 22 goals and 30 assists while being limited to 55 games in 2022-23 due to injury. He produced a point per game the season before that, collecting 26 tallies and 30 helpers over 56 contests.

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