August 11, 2020

Lafreniere excited after NHL Draft Lottery

Alexis Lafreniere’s wait has come to a close. Almost.

Lafreniere, the consensus top pick for the 2020 NHL Draft, witnessed the New York Rangers take the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft via the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday.

“For sure it was a pretty long process,” Lafreniere said via a Zoom conference call following the completion of the lottery. “We were waiting for this day for a couple weeks now. It was a big day. For sure it’s a relief, just to know who is going to pick first. We’ll see what happens next. For sure it was a really special day and a really emotional day.”

It’s been an extended pause for the Rimouski Oceanic center.

The 2020 draft was originally scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal, but was postponed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The delay came long after his season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was abruptly cancelled, as was any participation at the long cancelled NHL Scouting Combine in early June.

The lottery, though, will give some some added certainly to Lafreniere.

And he’ll almost certainly call the ‘Big Apple’ home moving forward.

“It’s been a really long last couple months but it’s really fun to know who won the lottery team,” Lafreniere said. “Really good team, obviously, with a lot of good players. I’m really happy.

“I’ve never been to New York,” he added. “A couple of my buddies went and they were telling me it’s a pretty nice spot. My favorite player was (Artemi) Panarin. Unreal year he had. Really dominant and one of the best players in the league this year. It’s really exciting to watch.”

He’ll add to the excitement.

Lafreniere, who helped Canada to gold at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the leading scorer in the QMJHL with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) for Rimouski, the Paul Dumont Trophy as QMJHL personality of the year, and the Michel Briere Trophy as the most valuable player in the QMJHL.

He was also named the Canadian Hockey League Top Draft Prospect of the Year Award, and recipient of the CHL David Branch Player of the Year Award.

The self-assessed scouting report is strong, too.

“I would say my vision, offensively the way I create chances for me or my teammates,” Lafreniere said. “I think my leadership is something that is real big. All my offensive abilities are my strength, play offensively with the puck. That’s where I’m at my best. I think that’s my biggest thing.”

It’s only going to get better from here, too.

Lafreniere is doing more to ensure he’s ready for NHL action when the puck drops on the 2020-21 season.

Almost assuredly from a home base of Madison Square Garden. And as a member of the Rangers.

“I’ve been on the ice a couple times a week for maybe two months now,” Lafreniere said. “It’s always fun to be able to work on yourself and the player you try to become, at the gym too trying to work as hard as you can.

“I think to become a productive player in the NHL you have to work in the gym, on the ice, to get better. There are so many great players.

“You need to work hard and try to improve every day.”

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