ICMYI, The Athletic: Patrik Laine was playing center when last season (mercifully) ended. Will he be in the middle now that #CBJ have a new coach (Mike Babcock) and a renovated depth chart?
– Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 22, 2023
Now 25, we generally have a good idea of the Finnish forward’s profile: he’s an excellent goalscorer and a great asset in the offensive zone, but defensively, he’s a bit of a pain. That’s not so bad considering he’s paid to score and not to defend, but it’s far from glorious in his own zone.
And that’s why I almost jumped when I saw that Laine confessed to NHL. com that he’s open to playing center next season.
At least, he’s working on a variety of things this summer, and if Mike Babcock wants to try him out at center, he’ll be ready.
Who would you want to see play on @PatrikLaine29‘s wings? 🤔
– NHL (@NHL) July 22, 2023
It’s important to note, however, that Laine (very briefly) played center last year. In fact, he played two games in this position at the end of the season before injuring his triceps, which put an end to his season.
And clearly, we’re not talking about a Patrice Bergeron when it comes to defensive play.
Babcock obviously didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself on the subject, but you can sense that he’s not closed to the idea. That said, we also sense that he wants to focus on guys who excel in the face-off circle.
On the other hand, I wonder how necessary it would be to move Laine to the center, considering there’s already depth at that position in town. Boone Jenner will still have an important role, youngsters Adam Fantilli and Cole Sillinger could push for playing time, Dmitri Voronkov is a good youngster from the KHL and can play center, Sean Kuraly will still be there and guys like Jack Roslovic and Kent Johnson have experience at center.
In my opinion, seeing Laine play more regularly on the right wing (he’s right-handed, but he plays more often on the left) would help his club a lot more than sending him to center. That way, he could be paired with Gaudreau and a guy like Jenner in the middle of a first trio that’s much more balanced and offensive nonetheless.
I can’t wait to see what the Blue Jackets do with their Finnish winger, but it’s clearly an intriguing prospect. Laine at center, do we like it or not?
– Speaking of the Blue Jackets.
Kent Johnson showed he belonged in the NHL by recording 40 points in his rookie season.
– NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) July 22, 2023
– Rafaël Harvey-Pinard is at the Kevin Raphaël Classic today.
– Montreal Canadiens (@CanadiensMTL) July 22, 2023
– Evgeny Kuznetsov’s IIHF suspension is over.
Evgeny Kuznetsov has served his four-year suspension from IIHF, now eligible to play in national team tournaments https://t.co/0limBgHryW
– RMNB (@rmnb) July 22, 2023
Other teams are thinking about it too. https://t.co/qW7uxXr1AH
– Passion MLB (@passion_mlb) July 22, 2023
– The Raptors offer a contract to a youngster who stole the show this summer. My text on the subject.