Great things expected of Laine… in time
Maurice will stay positive with winger even if Finn has a rough start in NHL
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/06/2016 (2417 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and his posse of scouts have done their work, adding six more prospects to the organization’s talent pool.
While there is development work ahead for all involved, the big prize of the 2016 NHL Draft for the Jets now moves into head coach Paul Maurice’s care.
Left-winger Patrik Laine was Winnipeg’s top pick Friday, No. 2 overall and Maurice was quizzed by reporters Saturday about what he’s got in mind in the days ahead for the flashy young Finn.
“The draft day, you shake hands and smile at them and you tell them to enjoy their day,” the coach said during Day 2. “It’s not about the coach and the player, it’s about mom and dad and brothers and sisters.”
Pressed to look ahead, Maurice relented with some thoughts about Laine.
“(I’ll) do everything I possibly can — and remember this — to downplay everything that he does,” Maurice said. “And not to him. I’ll be very positive with him. But it’s the expectations. And I understand them. (Everyone) should be excited. This is a special player. All the fans in Winnipeg should be excited. He’s going to be 18, 19 years old this year.
“And then, we’re just going to let it happen. We’re going to put him on the ice and put him with some good players and we’re going to give him an opportunity to show us what he already has done. And then he’s going to grow. So we’re going to enjoy watching it.”
Maurice emphasized more than once that even with Laine, development is still taking place in earnest.
“There’s Mark Scheifele out there, who’s emerging as a No. 1 guy in my mind in the NHL,” the coach said. “He took a certain path. You have guys that come in and light it up the first year and then they plateau a little bit. There are a lot of different ways to greatness in terms of development time and I’m open to any of them.”
Specifically, Maurice said he has certain important things he watches with young players, even Laine.
“I’m trying to see where his feet are and where his stick is,” he said. “Is he picking up the switch-offs? He (does) a really good job of that. That’s true of Finnish players. They’re very well-schooled defensively and they understand the game and play with a real compete level. That’s why they’re such a hard out for a country of five million people. They’re so hard to beat at these national tournaments.
“He’s certainly not a defensive liability. I watch that, because that’s what buys a player time to get to the holes he will score from.”
‘We’re just going to let it happen. We’re going to put him on the ice and puthim with some goodplayers and we’re going to give him an opportunity to show us what he already has done. And then he’sgoing to grow. So we’regoing to enjoy watching it’– Paul Maurice on Patrik Laine
Maurice said once Laine appears at Jets training camp after his experience with Team Finland at September’s World Cup, patience must be part of the equation.
“This development path, nobody can truly predict,” the coach said. “I also know that if in the first month it doesn’t go as well, he’s still a great player.
“I know if he scores eight in training camp, the city will be on fire, but there’s a still a lot of hockey to go and I won’t get too excited. I’ll be a little protective of him. At the same time, he doesn’t seem to need my help with that. He’s a smart, confident man and we like that.”
And amidst his protectiveness and the patience he seeks for Laine, Maurice did admit to high expectations.
“At some point in time, Patrik Laine is going to be a very dynamic shooter at both ends of the ice,” he said. “We believe he’ll be one of the extremely dangerous shooters in the league. What I’ve seen of him is that he’s also going be one of those guys who I can play into the big-minute hole. When that happens, whether it’s September or November, it’s going to happen.”