NHL Prospect Profile: Alexis Lafrenière

– Alexis Lafrenière –

Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) | Centre | 2020 NHL Draft Eligible

Saint-Eustache, Quebec | Oct. 11th, 2001 | 6-foot-1, 192-pounds

Alexis Lafrenière is arguably the most talented player eligible for selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft — an event scheduled to take place in Montreal, Quebec on June 26th. The location for the impending NHL Draft could not be more fitting for Lafrenière, as the youngster was born a one-hour’s drive from the home of the Canadiens — a reality which would make his potential selection at first overall especially sweet.

However, Lafrenière hasn’t simply stumbled to his standing atop the world of NHL prospects, as the youngster has long dominated his opposition with both consistency and authority. In fact, in his final season ahead of his selection in the QMJHL Draft, Lafrenière blasted home 33 goals and 83 points in a mere 36 games played — all of which coming against older competition at the Midget age level.

So, truthfully, Lafrenière’s absolute domination of the QMJHL over the past two seasons should come as no surprise. Owing to his smooth skating stride, unparalleled creativity, and decisive nature when in possession of the puck, Lafrenière has developed into a devastating offensive player who can take control of any given game at both ends of the ice. Sure, room for improvement exists within his game, yet the fact remains that Lafrenière holds the potential necessary to become a star player at the NHL-level in the immediate future.

Strengths:

  • Poise and Composure
  • Playmaking and On-Ice Vision
  • Offensive Creativity
  • Skating Strength and Puck Protection

Lafrenière has long been considered as the consensus first overall choice in the 2020 NHL Draft, and for good reason. In his first two seasons of play in the QMJHL following his first overall selection by the Rimouski Oceanic in the 2017 Entry Draft, Lafrenière tallied a total of 79 goals and 185 points in 121 regular season contests — a 1.52 point per game rate of production.

This outrageous level of production can be attributed directly to a number of Lafrenière’s seemingly endless strengths. The one facet of Lafrenière’s game which arguably shines the brightest is his remarkable composure when in possession of the puck. Not pressured into making mistakes and capable of protecting the puck with ease, Lafrenière assesses all of his options in a calm manor before regularly passing the puck to fellow teammates positioned in a deadly locations of the ice.

Related: NHL Draft — Canadian Player Profiles

The ability to create and implement high percentage scoring plays stands as the staple of Lafrenière’s game, as his ability to craft lethal opportunities not only leads to a wealth of team success but also improves the play of his fellow teammates in the process. So, it should come as no surprise to learn that Lafrenière garnered 106 assists in his first 121 games played in the QMJHL, his vision, creativity, and adaptability on the ice are simply that good.

The final strengths of many which are persistently present within Lafrenière’s game are his smooth skating stride, stability, and general strength when traversing the ice. Although his technical and playmaking abilities are otherworldly, Lafrenière’s skills on his skates stand as the foundation of his game. Capable of accelerating to top speed in a few short strides and able to fend off his opponents owing to his wide stance, Lafrenière can create time and space for himself to craft plays with relative ease and trumps his competition with his ability to do so.

Weaknesses:

  • Shooting Tendency

While creating plays and dishing the puck to his teammates is unquestionably Lafrenière’s greatest strength, his shot is equally intimidating and has the ability to beat opposing netminders owing to its accuracy and velocity. Unfortunately, Lafrenière doesn’t shoot the puck nearly as often as he should. Sure, the youngster tallied 37 goals in a mere 61 regular season games last season, however, many of which came in close proximity to the crease as opposed to from a distance.

 

At the NHL-level, loose pucks in and around the goal mouth are extremely difficult to come by, let alone available to pounce upon and deposit with regularity. So, if Lafrenière wishes to remain a goal scoring threat once he reaches hockey’s highest level, he’ll need to rely upon his shot with greater frequency — doing so will allow Lafrenière to stand as a persistently versatile threat in the attacking zone.

Future Potential:

At the NHL-level, expect Lafrenière to develop into nothing other than a dominant two-way centre capable of producing offensively in a variety of manners. Whether he be passing the puck to a teammate or whipping his shot on goal, Lafrenière will surely have little trouble adapting to hockey’s highest level owing to his composure, on-ice vision, and the confidence to create plays only dreamt of by most.

Although his first overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft is far from set in stone, Lafrenière’s glowing track record of offensive production and ability to flourish against stern competition on the international stage will do wonders for his draft stock in the eyes of scouts and management alike. As a player who is always willing to learn from his mistakes as well as from the direction of others, the sky truly is the limit for Lafrenière — the QMJHL’s latest superstar.

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