While Auston Matthews remains the No. 1 draft prospect for many, Finnish forward Patrik Laine has made a late push to press the American forward for top-overall honors. With both prospects playing in the World Championship in Russia, scouts have gotten an extended look at the top two players for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Laine has been tearing it up at the tournament as one of the leading scorers despite only recently turning 18. The big winger has 10 points, which has him second among all players at the tournament.
On Tuesday, Laine and the Finns had to take on Canada in their final preliminary round game. The winner of that game would earn the top seed in Group B, earning the most favorable matchup in the quarterfinals. So there were some stakes.
Laine was a factor early in the game as Finland stymied the Canadian attack. With Finland up 1-0 late in the second period, Anaheim Ducks forward and Canada captain Corey Perry was headed for a line change. Meanwhile Laine was looking to skate down the wing. As the two crossed paths, Perry sneakily stuck his leg out and tripped Laine.
TSN analyst and former NHLer Ray Ferraro didn't hold back in his assessment of Perry's action, calling it "a garbage play."
"That's a garbage play" - TSN broadcast. pic.twitter.com/WuekeBFU4w— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) May 17, 2016
Laine grimaced in pain and had to leave the game temporarily before returning to action. He did receive some extra attention from the team's medical staff. There was no penalty on the play.
Perry is one who is always toeing the line and is usually not shy about stepping right over it. This play was clearly over it.
First off, it's unnecessary. He's going for a line change and all he did was slow down the chance for his replacement to get involved in the action. Secondly, it's on an unsuspecting player. Laine has no reason to expect to have his leg taken out like that behind the play. Lastly, it could have been a lot worse than it appears it was.
After the game, Perry was asked about the play and had this to say for himself:
Asked Perry abut the trip on Laine. "I have no idea what you're talking about... "— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) May 17, 2016
You wouldn't expect Perry to implicate himself in any sort of wrongdoing, but the feigned ignorance bit isn't a good look either.
Laine has a really bright future and is going to be a pretty important asset to whichever team drafts him. Meanwhile, he's also a key player on a senior national team with gold medal aspirations. No player should be subjected to dirty plays like that, but this kid has a heck of a lot more to lose than a lot of the other players in this tournament.
Ferraro nailed it. That was garbage.