Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Alexis Lafreniere.
Long seen as the best prospect available in the 2020 NHL Draft, Alexis Lafreniere has solidified that status with an outstanding draft season. He put up 35 goals and 77 assists for 112 points in 55 games with the Rimouski Oceanic this season, winning the league’s scoring title. Lafreniere also played for Team Canada at the World Juniors. He scored four goals and six assists for 10 points in just five games, leading the team to the Gold Medal, and winning the tournament MVP.
A prodigious talent, Lafreniere put up 37 goals and 105 points in 61 games last season. He was even better in the 2019 QMJHL playoffs with nine goals and 23 points in 13 games. His performance earned him the QMJHL MVP and CHL Player Of the Year Awards. This came following another dominant performance in an international tournament. His 11 points in five games lead Team Canada to the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament Gold Medal.
Alexis Lafreniere Scouting Report
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born October 11th, 2001 — Saint-Eustache, Quebec
Height 6’01” — Weight 194 lbs [185 cm / 88 kg]
Lafreniere is a very good skater. He has very good speed, and pairs that with a stride that provides excellent acceleration and power. Lafreniere has a strong lower body, giving him excellent balance and making him tough to knock off the puck. He can fight through checks when carrying the puck and also wins battles along the boards. Lafreniere also has excellent agility and edgework. His ability to change directions allows him to fool defenders in one-on-one situations.
Lafreniere also has great hands, allowing him to make plays at top speed. Lafreniere can be a playmaker with his great vision and passing skills. He anticipates plays extremely well and makes his linemates better. Able to control the puck down low on the cycle, Lafreniere can create time and space while his teammates get open. Once they do, he can make a quick tape-to-tape pass that sets up his teammate in a prime scoring position. He can control the play on the half-boards, playing the role of a modern power-play quarterback.
Lafreniere is also a natural goal scorer. He can put the puck in the net in a variety of ways. He drives hard to the net and uses quick hands to beat goalies. His wrist shot is strong and accurate and he can score from further out. He can also play the power game, getting to rebounds and creating havoc out front. He is strong on the boards and wins battles for loose pucks. His smarts, strength, and quickness also make him an effective forechecker. Lafreniere is a prodigious talent with everything NHL teams are looking for.
When Lafreniere is on the ice at the junior level, he drives the play. This makes it difficult to truly assess his defensive game, as it is not often that his line gets pinned in their own end of the ice. That said, he has shown the willingness to backcheck effectively and help his team get the puck back and turn on the offence. He brings his strength and physicality in all three zones. Lafreniere also uses his outstanding hockey sense to read the play. He is often in the right position, to intercept a pass or create a turnover and start an offensive transition.
Projection and Comparison
Lafreniere can become a franchise player. He has everything one would look for in offensive player, skating, size, skill and smarts. This makes him the unquestioned number one prospect in the 2020 NHL Draft class. Lafreniere should come straight into the NHL next season and be a contender for the Calder Trophy. A mature player, he can eventually become a leader on his team. In terms of a style comparison, he plays the game similarly to Vincent Lecavalier, if he were a winger. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on talent or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Alexis Lafreniere that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Alexis Lafreniere Main Photo:
QUEBEC CITY, QC – OCTOBER 25: Alexis Lafreniere #11 of the Rimouski Oceanic skates prior to his game against the Quebec Remparts at the Centre Videotron on October 25, 2017 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)