Alexis Lafrenière – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

The Hockey Writers 2020 NHL Entry Draft Guide

Alexis Lafrenière

2019-20 Team: Rimouski Océanic
Date of Birth: October 11, 2001
Place of Birth: Saint-Eustache, Quebec
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 192 pounds
Shoots: Left
Position: LW
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible

Rankings

You’ve already heard about him. You’ve seen the highlight-reel plays, especially from the 2020 World Junior Championship. And every time you watch him play, the excitement about this young player grows. Playing in the QMJHL for Rimouski Océanic, Alexis Lafrenière has made sure you know his name heading into the 2020 NHL Draft.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

He’s been building up his resume for years already. After being taken first-overall by Rimouski – their first first-overall pic since Sidney Crosby – Lafrenière stormed out of the gate and took the league by storm. As a rookie, he put up 42 goals, 38 assists and 80 points in 60 games. He was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team, First All-Star Team, Rookie of the Year, and CHL Rookie of the Year. If he wasn’t already, he put himself very much on the map.

Alexis Lafreniere Rimouski Oceanic
Alexis Lafrenière of Rimouski Océanic (Photo by Vincent Ethier/CHL)

In 2018-19, the Océanic gave him an “A” on his jersey and he took a big step forward, racking up 37 goals, 68 assists and 105 points in 61 games. He was named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team, Most Valuable Player, Personality of the Year, and CHL Player of the Year. This season? He continued his dominance with another jump forward, now wearing a “C.” He put up 35 goals, 77 assists, and 112 points in just 52 games, leading the league in points. All signs point to him already getting all he could out of this league.

Internationally, Lafrenière has been proving he’s at the top of his draft class at every age. He won a U17 silver medal in 2017-18 and was named to the All-Star Team. In 2018, he collected a gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, captaining Team Canada and collecting 11 points in five games. He also played in the World Juniors, collecting one goal in five games in a depth role.

At the 2020 World Juniors, Lafrenière made Team Canada his own at the World Juniors. Despite missing two games with a leg injury, he helped lead the team to a gold medal, collecting 10 points in five games, and earning himself Best Forward and MVP of the tournament.

Alexis Lafreniere
Team Canada’s Alexis Lafreniere (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

So we know what he’s done, but how has he done it? Lafrenière truly is an all-round, elite player with an offensive gift. The offense runs through him. He can cycle the offensive end on his own, finding the perfect pass for an assist or the best positioning for a shot. His offensive awareness is off the charts. He reads defences so well that when you watch him play it looks like he visualizes the path to the net and he takes it.

If you’re one-on-one against him, expect to lose. He’s a very creative player, that can go through the opposition or blow past them. His biggest progression this season has been his skating. He’s a powerful skater who can accelerate with ease, often leaving defenders in his snow. It’s evident that he likes to pass, based on his assist totals through the years, but when he pulls out his wrist shot – watch out. It’s hard, it’s fast, it’s accurate.

It’s very probable that Lafrenière steps into the NHL next season, having taken all that he can out of the QMJHL. Whichever NHL team wins the draft lottery, expect to see the Océanic star in that team’s colours in 2020-21.

Other THW Draft Profiles:

Alexis Lafrenière – NHL Draft Projection

In most draft years, there’s a prospect that nearly everyone has pegged to go first overall. There’s always discussion though. Could Quinton Byfield pass him? Marco Rossi? Tim Stützle? Even goaltender Yaroslav Askarov? While the discussion is encouraged – it’s always good to discuss and to have an open mind – it’s unlikely to be the case this year. Expect Lafrenière to have his name called first in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Quotables

“A premier, point-producing machine of a forward. Extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations. Scores in a variety of ways. Brings the noise. Will be one of the rare wingers who will dictate everything. There’s little reason to believe he won’t immediately step into the NHL next fall and make an impact. A very worthy first-overall pick.” – Cam Robinson, DobberProspects

“His blend of elite power and puck protection with high-end puck skills as a handler, shooter and passer should make him an impact player immediately… Lafreniere’s now got a powerful stride that gives him the explosiveness he needs to cut through lanes and back defenders off, something that was once a (minor) concern. There’s also nothing about his game that makes me worry about his projection. He’s not passive, nor does he try to do too much — he takes calculated risks. He doesn’t tunnel vision as a shooter or passer, constantly surveying the ice for his best options. And he has all of the athletic tools he needs. When people lean on him, it’s like he doesn’t even notice they’re there. Even without the hardest shot or the quickest feet in the draft, he’s the clear best player and there shouldn’t be much — if any — hesitation for any team with the first overall pick.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from: “Wheeler: Midseason ranking for the 2020 NHL Draft’s top 62 prospects” – The Athletic – Feb. 19, 2020)

“A gifted scoring winger with outstanding hockey sense and the ability to elevate his game when the situation necessitates it…Although there are many things about Lafreniere that scream elite, specifically his vision and deadly wrist shot, it’s his insanely-high compete level, tenacity on the puck, and selflessness that set him apart from all his peers. Play him on a line with equally-heralded or accomplished prospects, and he’ll make it a point to tap into their strengths rather than make himself the center of attention. Lafreniere is an excellent skater in all directions, but his powerful stride allows him to separate from opponents in open ice. He can tailor his game to fit any style of play, and his ability to play physical causes significant matchup problems for smaller opponents.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

Strengths

  • Hockey Sense
  • Offensive Ability
  • Shot
  • Skating
  • Creativity

Under Construction (Improvements to Make)

There isn’t really one aspect of his game that is in glaring need of improvement. Heading into 2019-20, I may have said his skating and his shooting tendency, but both improved the season.

NHL Potential

It is very possible that Lafrenière will step right into the NHL next season with the team that drafts him. He could even start as a top-six winger. That being said, don’t hold expectations too high for the young player, look at 2019 first-overall pick Jack Hughes. Give him time, and expect him to eventually be a star in the league that could be a consistent 70-80 point player.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 1/5, Reward – 5/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offence – 10/10, Defence – 10/10

Awards/Achievements

Typically in this section, I write it out in paragraph form. But for Lafrenière, the list is simply too long:

2015-16

  • QBAAA Coupe Dodge (League Champions)
  • QBAAA Most Goals, Assists, and Points

2016-17

  • QGC-16 Silver Medal
  • QMAAA First All-Star Team
  • QMAAA Most Goals, Assists, and Points
  • QMAAA Most Valuable Player
  • QMAAA Prospect Award

2017-18

  • CHL Rookie of the Year
  • QMJHL All-Rookie Team
  • QMJHL First All-Star Team
  • QMJHL Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • QMJHL Rookie of the Year
  • U17 Dev Camp Tournament Champion
  • World U17 Hockey Challenge All-Star Team
  • World U17 Hockey Challenge Silver Medal

2018-19

  • CHL Player of the Year
  • Hlinka Gretzky Gold Medal
  • QMJHL First All-Star Team
  • QMJHL Most Valuable Player
  • QMJHL Personality of the Year

2019-20

  • QMJHL Most Points and Assists
  • World Juniors All-Star Team
  • World Juniors Best Forward
  • World Juniors Gold Medal
  • World Juniors Most Valuable Player
  • World Juniors Top 3 Player on Team

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