As the 2019-20 NHL season fastly approaches the mid-way point, eyes are beginning to take notice on the future stars that will be selected in the annual NHL Entry Draft. Although having buzz around him for a number of years, Alexis Lafreniere has all eyes on him as he vies to be drafted 1st overall come June.
So far, Lafrenière has certainly lived up to the hype of a first overall pick. Lafrenière, 18, currently plays for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL and is currently scoring at a 2.1 point per game pace netting 24 goals and 70 points in 32 games. While certainly impressive, his 16 and 17 year old seasons were sensational as well as after being drafted 1st overall in the the QMJHL, Lafrenière was named the league’s top rookie after netting 42 goals and 80 points in 60 games played. These 42 goals were the most from a 16 year old in the QMJHL since Sidney Crosby scored 54 in the 2003-04 season. Between the domination of his game since he entered the QMJHL and playing for the same team as Crosby, Lafrenière has often been compared to Crosby and has already begun to play those comparisons down.
“He played in Rimouski, and I did too. That’s something people say,” Lafrenière said. “But I’m not Crosby. I just try to be myself and play my game. If I can watch Crosby play and do things like he do, for sure I will do it to try to get better, but I don’t think I’m Crosby.”
Despite being on a tear since joining the QMJHL, Lafrenière has put on a show in the international setting as well. Last year he led Canada to a gold medal at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup notching 5 goals and 11 points, including 2 goals in the gold medal game against Sweden. Along with this he was the youngest player allowed to compete in the U20 World Junior Championships for Team Canada last year and although he only recorded 1 goal in 5 games, fit in nicely with players who were two to three years older than him. However, he will likely find himself in a much bigger role heading into this year’s World Junior Championships as he is another year older, more developed and is playing on arguably one of the deepest rosters in the tournament.
While it is still a bit early to talk about where teams will fall within the league standings, one thing that’s for sure is that the first overall spot in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is Lafrenière’s to lose.