Columbus Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine injured against the Colorado Avalanche
By Neil Becker
Coming off a disappointing first season with Columbus, which saw the right-winger score 10 goals and 21 points in 45 games, there was a lot of scrutiny about whether this 23 -year-old from Finland could recapture the glory he enjoyed when with Winnipeg.
This season saw a re-dedicated Laine who averaging just over 18 minutes per game got off to a strong start with 3 goals and 10 points in the Blue Jackets first 9 games.
Laine has also been drawing rave reviews in Columbus for his strong playmaking skills.
Unfortunately, Laine suffered an unfortunate setback when during an overtime win on November 3rd he suffered an oblique injury which will keep him sidelined for roughly 4-6 weeks.
Back in the 2016 NHL draft, this athletic Finn was selected second overall in the 2016 draft by the Winnipeg Jets. He dazzled as a rookie by totaling 36 goals along with 64 points which earned him runner-up status in the Calder Trophy voting.
During the next three years, this natural pure scorer kept producing as he went on to score 44 goals as a sophomore followed by 30 and 28 goal campaigns. Meanwhile, those three seasons saw Laine total 70-, 50- and 63-point seasons.
Following that fourth campaign, which saw him score 63 points in 68 games, Laine was involved in a blockbuster trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In giving the fans one more thrill, Laine’s final game in a Jets uniform was a three- point performance in the January 14, 2021 season opening 4-3 overtime against the Calgary Flames. This was a true vintage performance for Laine who notched an assist along with two goals including the overtime winner.
A few days later, on January 23rd Laine, who was nursing a recent wrist injury, was officially swapped to Columbus along with Jack Roslovic in return for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 2022 third-round pick.
After returning from that wrist injury, Laine ran into controversy four games in with Columbus when according to various sources, he got into a verbal altercation with an assistant coach and was benched for the remaining 26:19 of what was an eventual 3-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“He’ll be the first to admit he just has to be better,” Columbus forward Cam Atkinson told NBC Sports. “It’s plain and simple, and he knows it. That’s what we have to do, whether you’re a new guy, an old guy, we have to hold each other accountable. It doesn’t matter who you are on where you play, we have to all buy-in.”
During that first year as a Blue Jacket, Laine averaged about two shots per game which was under his career average of just over three. Also, he wasn’t getting the offensive chances he usually generates and his defensive play was being questioned.
Following the season, Columbus decided to roll the dice and on July 27, 2021, signed the streaky forward to a one-year $7.5 million dollar contract.
This season Laine was on a mission to show that he could still be a natural pure goal scorer. He was off to a strong start until unfortunately he got hurt. Here’s hoping he comes back sooner than projected and continues where he left -off.