Two of the projected top four players in the upcoming draft have been injured, as both Finnish winger Jesse Puljujarvi and Matthew Tkachuk are sitting out physical combine tests due to lower body injuries – and now, projected second overall pick Patrik Laine has sustained a knee injury, as well.
The 18-year-old Finnish forward reportedly injured himself during one of the endurance tests yesterday, the infamous V02 max bike test, and was unable to finish the remainder of the physical examinations he was set to undergo.
Despite concerns, though, Laine has assured the media in attendance that the injury doesn’t seem to be long-term. Per CBS Sports:
“I couldn’t finish [the tests] because I had some problem with my leg, but I think it went pretty normal otherwise,” Laine said. “I’m OK. I didn’t finish the test because I just don’t want to get hurt; I have an important summer and I don’t want to miss that.”
The good news there, of course, is that the injury doesn’t seem to be serious. The two skaters potentially projected to go third and fourth, Jesse Puljujarvi and Matthew Tkachuk, are sitting out for injuries of their own – Puljujarvi is sitting out for knee surgery, while Tkachuk has a sprained ankle and is ‘dinged up’ after his Memorial Cup run – so there’s not much worry that a strong combine for one of them could give them the edge over Laine himself.
The bad news, though, is that this eliminates another potential opportunity for the second-ranked player to give himself an edge over projected first overall pick, Auston Matthews. While various teams prioritize the results from the combine higher than others do, missing the physical tests could be what gives Matthews the final edge over Laine.
A strong World Championships performance and a dominant 2015-16 campaign should help ease the sting of missing the tests for the forward, as well.