BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Winnipeg Jets added some scoring sizzle and size Friday in the NHL draft.
Finnish winger Patrik Laine, taken second overall, looks primed to deliver goals right now. Towering defenceman Logan Stanley, chosen 18th, likely needs time to grow into his game.
NHL Central Scouting ranked Laine No. 2 among European players behind centre Auston Matthews, who played for Zurich last season.
Laine joins Kari Lehtonen and Aleksander Barkov as the highest Finns ever drafted into the NHL.
At six foot four and 201 pounds, the 18-year-old Laine has size as well as a wicked shot.
“An extremely skilled winger with size, speed, hockey, sense and competitiveness,” said Dan Marr, director of Central Scouting. “He is a natural scorer who possesses an NHL-calibre shot. Laine is a tough competitor to play against and even harder to check, an offensive threat every time he is on the ice.”
A happy Laine said he just wants to focus on Winnipeg and practising.
“I’ve heard it’s pretty cold out there and it’s a big city and a nice city,” he said.
The Jets traded up to the 18th overall pick to take Windsor’s Stanley. Winnipeg also acquired the 79th overall pick in this year’s draft from the Philadelphia Flyers for the 22nd and 36th overall selections.
The six-foot-seven, 225-pound Stanley, a fan of Predators blue-liner Shea Weber, doesn’t expect to grow any taller but is looking to fill out.
“I’m happy to be part of it,” the 18-year-old from Waterloo, Ont., said of joining the Jets organization.
The Jets’ second first-round pick was obtained from Chicago (22nd overall) in the deal that sent captain Andrew Ladd to the Blackhawks in February.
Laine is also coming off a season to remember. Playing for Tappara, he led all rookies in the Finnish Elite League with 17 goals and 16 assists in 46 games. And he added 10 goals and five assists in 18 playoff games, helping Tappara to the league title while winning the Jari Kurri Award as playoff MVP.
Laine (pronounced LY-ny) led Finland to gold at the 2016 World Junior Championship on home soil, tying Matthews for the tournament lead with seven goals and was named to the tournament all-star team.
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Matthews first overall.
At the world championship, Laine tied for the tournament lead in goals with seven as Finland won silver. Laine was named MVP, best forward and a tournament all-star.
“It gave me confidence a lot,” he said. “To see that I can play against those players and play well.”
There have been some bumps in Laine’s road. He was sent home from the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Tournament after clashing with his coach during a game for not letting him play.
“I was a kid and I couldn’t handle that,” Laine said. “I just said to the guy next to me that I would punch the coach.”
The story spiralled from there. “It was all over the news,” he acknowledged.
Older and somewhat wiser, Laine still has an edge about him. He turned up at a pre-draft media availability looking nonchalant in sunglasses with his baseball cap turned backwards, only to have a handler ask him to take the shades off.
“I can’t see then,” Laine replied before taking them off.
Laine says he models himself after Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin.
Winnipeg has history with Finland, welcoming Teemu Selanne into the NHL fold back in 1992-93 when the Finnish Flash racked up 76 goals.
Laine said he hoped to bring more goals to Winnipeg.
Stanley, whose cousin is Capitals forward Michael Latta, had five goals and 12 assists in 59 games this season.
Winnipeg has five more picks Saturday.
At 35-39-8, the Jets finished nine points out of the playoffs last season.