While Patrik Laine's first season with the Columbus Blue Jackets may not have gone according to plan, the 23-year-old winger said Thursday he doesn't believe he has anything to prove this year.
Acquired from the Winnipeg Jets in January, Laine struggled upon entering the Blue Jackets lineup, posting 10 goals and 21 points in 45 games with the team. He scored at least 28 goals in each of first four NHL seasons, including 44 goals in 2017-18.
"I don't think I need to prove anything anymore," Laine said. "I think I've proved already what I could do in this league, scoring over 40. It's not an everyday thing for a lot of guys in this league. I know. I've done that already, so I don't think I'm in that position anymore where I have to prove anything to anybody.
"But I still want to be better. It doesn't matter if I scored 70 last year, I still want to be better."
Laine, a restricted free agent this off-season, accepted his one-year, $7.5 million qualifying offer from the Blue Jackets in July, betting on himself this year.
Selected second overall in the 2016 draft, Laine said he put the 2020-21 season behind him as soon as the final game ended.
"After I took my skates off after the last game. That was kind of when I had to hit the reset button for myself," Laine said. "It was a tough one, but there's nothing you can do about it anymore. You know as an athlete you'll go through ups and downs. It would be pretty boring if you were playing good all the time. You've got to have bad stretches and even sometimes you're going to have bad seasons. You just can't help it. You've got to fight it and try to get out of it.
"Now I have 82 opportunities, and hopefully more, to play good. I'm excited about that."
Laine, who said after last season the new system wasn't at fault for his poor numbers, will be working under new head coach Brad Larsen after the Blue Jackets parted ways with John Tortorella in May.