Hot takes are a regular feature of NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the 2017-18 NHL playoffs in their infancy, Eddie Olczyk wasted little time making one hell of a bold prediction.
While discussing the talented Winnipeg Jets and their star Patrik Laine, Olczyk stated that he believes Laine is a player capable of scoring 65 to 70 goals in a season.
Through his first two NHL seasons, Laine has scored 36 goals and 44 goals, respectively. There’s no arguing that Laine, who turns 20 later this month, isn’t an extremely gifted forward. However, the jump in production needed to crack the 65-goal plateau, let alone the 70-goal plateau, is so steep that it seems like quite the reach by Olczyk.
Historically, a player scoring 65 or more goals in a season has only happened 24 times in NHL history. The most recent was Alex Ovechkin’s 65-goal season in 2007-08. The rest of that list is populated by some of the game’s best, including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull.
Olczyk does make a reasonable comparison between Laine and Hull, but he’s forgetting what scoring is like in the modern NHL. Laine and Hull do have some similarities, including their hard-nosed approach, but that shouldn’t lead to conclusions which would suggest Laine can score 65+ in a season.
Laine is a special talent, but maybe he should crack the elusive 50-goal mark before anyone starts suggesting he can pull off one of the most difficult feats in hockey.