When the Winnipeg Jets drafted Patrik Laine with the No. 2 overall pick in this summer's NHL Draft, most figured he would be an important part of the Jets' future. While that certainly hasn't changed, it would have been difficult to predict just how important a piece he's been to the team right out of the gate.
The 18-year-old Finnish forward vaulted to the top of the NHL's goals leaderboard on Tuesday night thanks to his second hat trick already this season. Laine's three-goal performance against the Dallas Stats brings brings his season total to 11 goals, making him the league's first player to reach double-digit tallies this season.
"It's always unbelievable to score," Laine said after Tuesday's game, via Sportsnet. "I'm proud of myself and I'm proud of our team.
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"I don't want to think about the future, (but) it's amazing to lead the league on the scoreboard."
Two hat tricks for a teenager in his rookie season would be impressive in its own right, but the fact that Laine needed just 14 games to do it is just crazy. He's shown incredible skill, poise and instinct in the small NHL sample size provided to this point, and the Jets have to be ecstatic.
It's also worth pointing out that Laine's linemate, 23-year-old Mark Scheifele, had a four-point night against Dallas and now leads the league in points with 18 (nine goals, nine assists). The future is now for Winnipeg.