World Youth 2020: Canada, Rimouski launches Alexi Lafrenieri with impressive numbers in draft year

The remarkable success of Alexis Lafreniere’s junior career has clearly made him a favorite to be the first overall pick in the NHL 2020 entry plan.

Not only has it met the high expectations, but it seems to be on the verge of establishing a new model of excellence for the French-born prospects of Canada. A frontman with excellent coaching abilities, Lafreniere was raised in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Eustache, Que., And currently plays for the Rimouski Ocean in Quebec’s Major League Soccer. It’s the same organization that created two of the last three Canadian players to advance to the Quebec League for the first time overall – Vincent Lecavalier in 1998 and Sidney Crosby in 2005.

If we are to evaluate a prime prospect exclusively for point production, then Lafreniere’s grip on the top ranking has tightened. Not only is he leading the entire QMJHL in scoring, but he is expected to be Canada’s top line-up at the IIHF World Youth Championship to begin on December 26 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. While making the team last year, he served as a depth player. this year, it will support the clutch game and help revitalize a Canadian power game that has struggled in recent tournaments. Lafreniere’s 27-Power Power assist through Sunday is the biggest part of any player in any of Canada’s three major junior leagues.

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The death of Lafreniere’s resume earlier this season confirms the consensus that he will be the first choice for this project. Lafreniere, first selected by Rimouski in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft, led Ocean to a 43-point improvement in ranking, winning the Rookie of the Year award with 42 goals – the most since the 16-year-old from Crosby (2004). ). He started last season by leading Canada to a gold medal in 18-year-old Ivan Hlinka and finishing as the tournament’s top scorer. In the championship game, he published his first 100-point season and was named Player of the Year for Canadian Hockey of the Year despite being a year away from eligibility. As it goes, Lafreniere is the favorite to have Crosby and John Tavares as the only players in CHL history to win the prestigious prize many times before being drafted.

So how good are Lafreniere’s QMJHL numbers, really? After recording a staggering average of 1.72 points per game last year, and hitting a mind-boggling December 2.19 to 15, he is set to join Crosby (2003, 2004) as the only two QMJHLer in the last 22 to shade 1.70 in consecutive predictions. In addition, today’s average of 2.19 would be the second highest of any QMJHL prospect since 1996. In other words: Lafreniere was the most dominant QMJHL qualifier not named Sidney Crosby in more than 20 years. He also achieves the feat when scoring in the Quebec League is almost a complete goal less per game now (6.88) than in 2000 (7.81). Of course, the finishing mark on “The Q” is slowly moving upwards from its low point in the mid-2000s, but Lafreniere is a mere pace away from a large margin of nearly a dozen candidates who have chosen the plan.

Impressive, indeed.

Perspectives QMJHL Prospects 1993-20 (NHL Top picks and protagonists)

Player
GP
PTS
PTS / G
Time
It was designed overall
League C / C
Sydney Crosby
62
168
2.71
2005
1st
6.37
Alexandre Daigle
53
137
2,58
1993
1st
8.81
Daniel Briere
67
163
2.43
1996
24th
8.04
Sydney Crosby
59
135
2.29
2004
Drawing-1
6.72
Alexis Lafrenier
32 *
70 *
2.19 *
2020
Plan 2020
6.88 *
Jonathan Drouin
49
105
2.14
2013
3rd
6.91
Pierre-Marc Bouchard
69
140
2.03
2002
8th
6.97
Derick Brassard
58
116
2.00
2006
6th
7.41
Vincent Lecavalier
58
115
1.98
1998
1st
7.44
Alexis Lafrenier
61
105
1.72
2019
Drawing-1
6.92
Nathan MacKinnon
44
75
1.70
2013
1st
6.91
Brad Richards
68
115
1.69
1998
64th
7.44
Alex Tanguay
51
85
1.67
1998
12th
7.44

* Through games played on December 15th

Still, some still argue that Lafreniere’s numbers are the by-product of the game in an up-tempo league, as opposed to the more balanced Ontario Hockey League, or the tough and tight-control Western Hockey League. A closer look at the league’s goal scoring, however, reveals that it is the OHL, not the QMJHL, that offers its players and goal-scorers a much more favorable environment for capturing impressive statistics of the year.

This is important because it not only adds a framework to Lafreniere’s production, but also to his closest competitor for the top spot in the project – Quinton Byfield. The OHL Central Center for the Sudbury Wolves is almost a year younger than Lafreniere and averages an impressive 1.90 points per game. Of Byfield’s 57 points in 30 games, 41 have come with even force or agony – the same number Lafreniere has recorded from his 70 points, but in two more games.

The difference in the sum of the points is due to Lafreniere’s significant advantage in the points of power (29 in Byfield 16). Rimouski, who holds QMJHL’s second-best power play at 31.1%, earns 4.35 opportunities in one game, while Wolves of Byfield is at 24.2% effective at 3.76 odds. Even if, in a hypothetical scenario, Sudbury returned a lot of chances to play with Rimouski, the extra goals they would score would only hurt Byfield’s overall score from 57 to 61 (he has currently played in 16 of 30 players). team, game goals).

In conclusion, Alexis Lafreniere produces Quinton Byfield with a wide margin and does so, while the QMJHL averages 0.76 goals less per game than the Byfield OHL.

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Of course, goals and aids are only part of the overall evaluation process.

The fact that they play different positions in the future in different leagues does not diminish the importance of each player’s impressive totals. And now that we know that the impressive production of Lafreniere’s work has not been enhanced by some kind of multiplier, we can begin to analyze the aspects of his game that make him unique. not just for this particular class plan but probably for any prospect plan after Connor McDavid.

Lafreniere is a strong left wing who has the vision and touch of a refined player. He was the key to what was arguably the best line in all of the major Canadian junior when he played this season with center Cedric Pare and the now-injured Calgary Flames prospect Dmitry Zavgorodniy; each average near or above two points per game. While this type of production line is historically common to juniors, it has become rarer in the last decade and there is no difference in saying that neither Pare nor Zavgorodniy would have had career years if they had not been for the talented 18 year old.

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If you mentioned the last half-dozen first-round picks to include McDavid, no one offers Lafreniere’s impressive mix of creativity and rough play. This is not to say that a style or a player is better or worse. On the contrary, he stresses the importance of having a natural high octane wing with an elite touch to be the centerpiece of a time in an era where the average NHL player is not only faster but also shrinking.

Lafreniere’s rebound skills are as varied as they are attractive, but the added advantage is his intangibles – leadership, work ethic and level of competition. It has the balance and versatility of Auston Matthews, the vision and passing of Jack Hughes, the two-way intelligence of Nico Hischier and, most importantly, Lafreniere displays McDavid’s imposing presence.

The production of the current NHL Stars by the CHL

Player
Link
GP
PTS
PTS / G
Year
League C / C
Sydney Crosby
QMJHL
62
168
2.71
2005
6.37
Connor McDavid
OHL
47
120
2.55
2015
7.01
Patrick Kan
OHL
58
145
2.5
2007
7.46
Alexis Lafrenier
QMJHL
32
70
* 2.19
2020
* 6.88
Mitchell Marner
OHL
63
126
2.00
2015
7.01
Quinton Byfield
OHL
30
57
* 1.90
2020
* 7.64
Taylor Hall
OHL
57
106
1.86
2010
6.95
John Tavares
OHL
56
104
1.86
2009
6.86
Steven Stamkos
OHL
61
105
1.72
2008
6.89
Nathan MacKinnon
QMJHL
44
75
1.70
2013
6.91
Andrei Svechnikov
OHL
44
72
1.64
2018
7.10
Niko Heiser
QMJHL
57
86
1.51
2017
6.90

* Through games played on December 15th

A return from a physical perspective, Lafreniere’s vision, stickhandling and hands are elite to today’s standards. He has a forward movement that manages to look cute in tight spaces as often as he does in open ice. There’s not much an opponent can do when he and his teammates take control of the offensive zone and their surgical exchanges and weaving during the cycle push most checkers to give up the white flag and retreat to reception. Once he has given the room, Lafreniere can deliver a devastating cannon and take the corners with regularity.

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Still, as sweet as these superfluous ones are, they do not necessarily guarantee that Lafreniere will outperform or outperform any of the aforementioned top choices. He’s still a teenager learning the game, and his excitement has led to some unruly play. Never completely neutralized, Lafreniere was kept under control, though for short periods.

The constant dilemma for past or present rivals manages and designs around the certainty that Lafreniere has both the will and the ability to change the tone of a game at a time. Looking at his numbers compared to several current NHL stars at the same time, there’s no reason to think he won’t do the same at the highest level.

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