Alexis Lafrenière ready to live her draft, whatever the way
Best hope for the next NHL drafting session, Alexis Lafrenière still keeps a cool head at the idea of following in the footsteps of Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux and a few other players from Quebec to have been chosen at the forefront of the repechage.
“These are big names, but I will try to make my way and my own name and progress as a player,” said the captain of the Rimouski Océanic on Wednesday on a conference call.
Like many players, Lafrenière probably saw his junior career end with the cancellation of the season and the QMJHL playoffs. He therefore completed his third campaign in the Bas-Saint-Laurent at the forefront of scorers with a production of 112 points in 52 games. It would be astonishing to see him again on the ice rinks of the Courteau circuit, next season.
“It’s disappointing that the season ends like this, we had the team to go far, but people’s health is more important. I thank the Océanic, my teammates and my coaches, but especially the supporters for the last three years of support. They mean a lot to me and they will always have a place in my heart. I really enjoyed my three seasons at Rimouski, it’s easy to get attached to the fans. They are passionate and support the team, they are the best in the League, ”he said, from the start.
But the discussion of course focused on his future, which inevitably goes through the next draft. It remains astonishing in front of the predictions of the various experts who see him leave first.
“There are so many good players around the world, I don’t think I have confirmed anything about where I will be drafted. I tried not to have too much expectation this season, and my goal was to perform as much as possible, to improve day by day and to help the team win as many games as possible ”, he clarified with humility.
The number 11 cherished the hope of seeing the Océanic experience success in the QMJHL series. “It’s still flat,” allowed himself to say the one whose performance at the World Junior Championship remains one of the important moments of his junior career.
“I had the chance to represent my country, it’s always a great honor. And to win there was something, “he admitted about winning the Canadian medal. He was also named the MVP of this competition in Ostrava, the Czech Republic.
“I thank the Océanic, my teammates and my coaches, but especially the supporters for the last three years of support. They mean a lot to me and they will always have a place in my heart. ”
– Alexis Lafrenière
Since then, the native Saint-Eustache player has spoken with some 20 NHL teams in preparation for the draft. He did not have an individual meeting with the Canadiens, except when he was received at the Bell Center to celebrate the conquest of the gold medal. Because of the cororanirus pandemic, Lafrenière will be completely deprived of the pleasure of climbing on the grandstand of the Bell Center, where the draft was to take place on June 26. He was pushed back on Wednesday. Lafrenière doesn’t worry about that.
“It’s not something I control. The draft is always a dream moment, but health is more important. I’m going to be lucky to be drafted anyway, so no matter how, it will be a great honor. Last year, I experienced the draft in Vancouver and it was nice to see how it went. I was able to experience it with my friends who were drafted, it gives a taste of what is going on, ”added the one who will also be animated by a feeling of pride to then play in any team.
For the time being, he is training alone in the garage of the family home and would like to have the chance to see his teammates at the Océanic once the assembly bans have passed.
“It was really a good passage. When I arrived in Rimouski, I was very young, at 15, I had a lot to learn on and off the ice. On the ice, I learned to play without the puck, my game without the puck and on the outside, they [the coaches] helped me become a man. ”
According to several scouts, Alexis Lafrenière is still the player most likely to be selected at the very top of the next NHL Entry Draft.
The hockey seasons ended abruptly, both in North America and in Europe, but the NHL scouts had had time to properly assess the hopes of the next draft. Based on the comments of a few interviewed under the guise of confidentiality, Alexis Lafrenière should be the very first choice during the next selection session. Here’s what four recruiters who saw him play for:
– Screener 1: “No doubt, it will be the first choice. The little guy, he knows where he’s going. Like everyone else, he has little things to correct, like his occasional behavior on the ice, look at what he did at the World Juniors, he will be an impact player in the NHL. He has an exceptional talent, he is a very good game maker and his main quality is to make the players who play with him better. ”
– Scout 2 : “Exceptional players, there are not every year, but he is one. It is labeled as number 1, the other discussions are who will be 2nd, 3rd or 4th. What impresses me most is his ability to make others better, even if they are older than him. Serge [Beausoleil] was brilliant in going for 20-year-old center players to play with him, in recent years, their production has exploded with him. Lafrenière does not crash under pressure, he is always there when it counts. He has a mixture of technical skills, hockey sense and an aspect that will allow him to quickly make his place in the NHL. It reminds me of Jonathan Huberdeau, in an improved version. ”
– Scout 3: “He has all the qualities to be the 1st choice of the repechage. He is strong, he has a good throw. The big test is the World Junior Championship, and he passed it hands down. The 17 year old guys who are so successful in this tournament bringing together above all the best 19 year old players are not numerous, he gained credibility by doing so. Now I don’t like to compare young people to established players. It just adds pressure to them. Why do that, afterwards, it can only be disappointing if the youngster does not develop as we hope. ”
– Screener 4: “It is the first in my book and in that of other screeners. The gap between Lafrenière and Quinton Byfield [Ontario] is too large to pass up. I don’t see him as an exceptional player, because I’m not sure he will be as dominant as Connor McDavid in his first year, but I surely see him as being a concessionaire on which to start a good foundation . He has qualities on the ice, on the bench, in the locker room and outside, he also exerts a charisma which makes him magnetizing for his teammates. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a player like him in Quebec. ”