Blue Jackets' Laine hopes Gaudreau will 'bring out the best' in him
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen plans to put his top two weapons on the same line to start the preseason, and both Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau are looking forward to seeing what they can do together.
"I think (Gaudreau's) probably the best offensive guy I've ever had a chance to play with, no offense to anybody that I've played with," Laine said, according to NHL.com's Nick Cotsonika.
He added: "It should hopefully bring out the best in me, and I'm obviously (going to) try to make the best I can to make it work and do what I can on the ice. Obviously, I think we can benefit each other out there."
Boone Jenner centered the pair of talented wingers on Thursday during the Blue Jackets' first day of training camp, with Laine on the right and Gaudreau on the left.
"Obviously, (Laine is) a really, really smart player," Gaudreau said. "He can see the ice really, really well, and his shot's just off the charts. I kind of see myself as a pass-first guy, so hopefully, I can find him somewhere in the slot or in the zone, and it'll probably go in if he has a second or two to get the shot off."
The potentially dangerous duo seems like a fantastic fit. Laine, 24, has an all-world shot and has eclipsed the 30-goal mark three times in his career. Gaudreau, 29, is a talented playmaker who ranked third in the league with 75 assists last season.
Laine has never scored 50 goals in a campaign - the closest he came was in 2017-18 when he lit the lamp 44 times with the Winnipeg Jets - but his odds of reaching that mark should increase substantially with Gaudreau in the fold. Still, the Finnish sniper knows building chemistry takes time.
"On paper, you would think it should work, and obviously, I'm hoping for that as well," Laine said. "But like I've always said, good players always find a way to make it work, and I still consider myself as an alright player, so I'm sure we can find a way to make it work."
Laine's production has decreased since the Jets traded him in 2021. He's potted just 36 tallies in 101 games with the Blue Jackets, while his goals-per-game rate has dipped from 0.46 with Winnipeg to 0.36 with Columbus.
While Laine will look to improve alongside Gaudreau, the Blue Jackets will be hoping for a team resurgence. They finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division last season, amassing a 37-38-7 record and missing the playoffs for a second straight campaign.
Columbus opens preseason play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 25.