The forwards skated on the same line during the Blue Jackets’ first day of training camp Thursday, with Laine on the right, Gaudreau on the left and boone jenner in the middle.
In theory, the formula is simple: an elite shooter at Laine plus an elite playmaker at Gaudreau equals a lot of goals.
“Obviously, it will be necessary to see”, defense. Zach Werenski said. “Chemistry is a strange thing, right? But if they can build their chemistry fairly early in the season, I have no doubt. [Laine] I could touch 50 this year”.
Fifty would be a feat.
Four players reached the 50-goal mark in the NHL last season: Toronto Maple Leafs center auston matthews (60), Edmonton Tankers Center Leon Draisaitl (55), forward for the New York Rangers chris kreider (52) and Washington Capitals ahead alex ovechkin (fifty).
Laine’s career NHL scoring record is 44, set in 2017-18 with the Winnipeg Jets.
Columbus’ record for goals in a season is 41, set by Rick Nash in 2003-04 and tied by cam atkinson in 2018-19.
Could Laine get to 41, 44 or more?
Laine said he didn’t have numbers in mind, those milestones meant nothing to him and his only goal is to be a better player than he was last season.
But he also said this with his trademark dry delivery: “Yeah, it would be fun to hit those marks. I just don’t want to score 40. You know, I’ve been there, done that. Obviously I want to go high and you always have to measure yourself, what how good you can be.”
Laine hasn’t necessarily been at his best in Columbus.
The No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft behind Matthews, Laine scored 36 goals in 2016-17 and finished second to Matthews for the Calder Trophy, which goes to NHL Rookie of the Year as voted by the NHL Association. Professional Hockey Writers.
Following his second 44-goal season, he scored 30 goals in 2018-19 and 28 in 2019-20. He scored two goals in one game for the Jets in 2020-21, then was traded to the Blue Jackets on January 23, 2021.
He has scored 36 goals in 101 games since then, including 26 in 56 games last season.
But Gaudreau could give Laine something he hasn’t had. Gaudreau tied for second in the NHL with 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) last season with the Calgary Flames and signed a seven-year, $68.25 million (average annual value of $9.75 million) contract as a free agent. restrictions on July 13.
“I think he’s probably the best offensive guy I’ve ever had a chance to play with, no offense to anyone I’ve ever played with,” Laine said. “…Hopefully, it should get the best of me, and obviously I’m [going to] try to do the best you can to make it work and do what you can on the ice. Obviously, I think we can benefit from each other.”
Video: Top 5 patrick laine Plays of the 2021-22 Season
Laine signed his own four-year, $34.8 million contract as a restricted free agent on July 22, giving him peace of mind.
“Hopefully now I can just relax, not in a bad way,” he said, “but just play more relaxed and at the same time work as hard as I ever have before and approach it that way and hopefully get more freedom.” there and you don’t have to worry about those things.
Laine said he wanted to pick it up even more in the offseason. He looks slimmer, though that might be his new very short haircut.
“I have [gotten] so many squeaks over the years because of my hair, so I decided to cut it, and we’ll stick with this,” Laine said. “It’s more streamlined, so I hope to be faster.”
“I hope I’ve slimmed down,” Laine said. “Hopefully it’s not just the hair.”
Asked if he is in the best shape of his life, the 24-year-old said: “I would say yes.”
The Blue Jackets have taken notice, until president of hockey operations John Davidson, who said, “It’s like he’s excited to make a statement.”
Werenski said that Laine had mastered casual skates.
“I’ve never seen Patty look so good,” Werenski said. “He had a good summer. He’s scoring on every shot. He’s shooting with confidence. He’s making plays with confidence. I think if you put Johnny in there with him, [Gaudreau] he can give him the puck as much as he gives other guys the puck. I can see [Laine] scoring 50, like, no problem.”
Casual skates are one thing. NHL games are another.
But there is so much potential in even strength and power play. Laine said the Blue Jackets are already talking about who will play where on the power play, and coaches are giving players a lot of responsibility and freedom to run it themselves.
“Obviously, [Laine is] a very, very smart player,” Gaudreau said. “He can see the ice very, very well, and his shot is off the charts. I see myself as a pass-first guy, so hopefully I can find him somewhere in the slot or zone, and he’ll probably go in if he has a second or two to shoot.”
This is the plan. Now it’s up to them to make it happen.
“On paper, you’d think it should work, and obviously I hope that too,” Laine said. “But like I’ve always said, good players always find a way to make it work, and I still consider myself a good player, so I’m sure we can find a way to make it work.”