There’s been plenty of debate already leading up to the upcoming 2016 NHL Entry Draft regarding whether Arizona-raised Auston Matthews or Finnish-born Patrik Laine should be taken with the first overall pick, which is currently in the possession of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Matthews told the media on Saturday that he feels confident he can handle the pressure of Toronto and playing in front of their oft-critical media; while he was fairly demure in his assessment of his skills in comparison to Laine, that was his quiet assertion that he thinks he’s good enough to be first overall.
Laine, like Matthews, gave his own hint that he’s confident in his ability to go first overall – but unlike the American center, he was slightly less quiet about it:
The attitude from Laine is a departure from the traditional quiet, humble attitude that hockey fans expect from their biggest stars – but it’s not the only confident assessment that a player has given recently of his own abilities.
Finnish-born defenseman Olli Juolevi has already stated this year that he considers himself the best blue liner available in the draft, calling himself the smartest defenseman of the top ones listed. There’s also the debacle in 2014, when prospect Joshua Ho-Sang infamously gave interviews that turned teams off him with his confidence; he reportedly told the Dallas Stars that they would ‘live to regret’ not selecting him if they didn’t.
While it potentially hurt Ho-Sang’s draft stock, though, this could a sign that players – and their overall demeanors – are starting to shift. There’s no way to know until the draft, though.