- Quebec-born player Alexis Lafrenière is projected to be the first pick at the 2020 NHL mid-season draft.
- He would be the first Québécois to hold such a distinction since 2003.
The rankings for the 2020 NHL mid-season draft were recently released and for the first time in 17 years, a Quebec-born player was ranked as the top prospect in hockey. Alexis Lafrenière, the star forward of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Rimouski Oceanic and recent World Junior Gold Medal winner is projected to go first overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, taking place in Montreal.
According to Sportsnet, the last Quebec-born player to go first overall was in 2003 when goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fleury has since carved out a Hall of Fame-worthy career, with three Stanley Cups and an Olympic Gold Medal to his name.
Since arriving on the junior hockey scene in 2017, Lafrenière has been impressing scouts and shattering scoring records. His 42 rookie season goals are the most scored by an Oceanics player since Sidney Crosby scored 54 in his rookie year with the team.
Most recently, Lafrenière helped lead Team Canada to World Junior gold and won the championship's Most Valuable Player award with 10 points in five games.
The 18-year-old Saint-Eustache native is projected to be one of the most electrifying NHL players of his generation. The team that drafts him will have one of hockey's brightest young stars.
As an added bonus, Lafrenière's family won't have to travel far to see him get drafted first overall. The 2020 NHL Draft is taking place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, about an hour away from Lafrenière's childhood home.
As The Athletic's Sean Gordon puts it in his profile of the young star, "franchise-defining players, the Next Ones, tend to have a trademark [...] as befits a future star, there’s an unmistakable sense when Lafrenière is on the ice that he knows what’s coming; all that’s missing is the 1-800-PSYCHIC number and low-fi infomercial."
Lafrenière's special talents have helped him see success in all aspects of his young hockey career.
Should Lafrenière get drafted first overall, he would not only be the first Quebec-born player since 2003, but also the first Canadian-born player to be drafted first overall since Connor McDavid in 2015, says Sportsnet.
With 258 career points in only 155 career games (so far) Lafrenière is poised to be an NHL star on the level of McDavid and Matthews.
As the NHL season winds down, the annual tradition of "NHL Tank Wars" will resume, where teams compete to be the worst in the NHL for the ultimate prize of a chance at drafting Lafrenière.
Though there are no guarantees, the worst teams in the league are entered into a draft lottery at the end of the season to determine their draft position.
Currently, the Detroit Red Wings have the best odds of drafting the talented Quebecois sniper, with 18.5% odds according to Tankathon.com.
The Montreal Canadiens, on the other hand, have a meagre 6.0% chance at the time of writing, but if they keep losing like they are, the odds will be in their favour.
Without a doubt, Alexis Lafrenière will likely be the next huge star in the NHL. The team that drafts him will have a talent unlike any on their team right now.
The 2020 NHL Draft takes place on June 26 and June 27 right here at the Bell Centre in Montreal.