Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors | By Gavin Lee | Last updated 10/6/20
The New York Rangers have added another franchise talent. After selecting Kaapo Kakko with the second pick in 2019, the Rangers lucked into another lottery win this year and the right to select any draft-eligible player they want. Though names like Quinton Byfield or Tim Stuetzle may have been tempting in any other year, the team had no choice but to select the consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.
There is almost nothing that Lafreniere can’t do on an ice rink. Growing up just outside of Montreal, it didn’t take long for prospect watchers to recognize that he may be one of the next great talents to come out of the province of Quebec.
When it came time for the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft, there was little doubt who would be off the board first. The Rimouski Oceanic, the same junior program that had produced Sidney Crosby more than ten years earlier, selected Lafreniere ahead of Samuel Poulin and Jakob Pelletier, both players who ended up going in the first round of the 2019 NHL draft. Lafreniere was different though, and it wouldn’t take him long to show it.
Because of his late birthday—October 11th—Lafreniere would actually make his debut for Rimouski at age-15. He recorded 11 shots on goal over his first three games but would come away with just a single assist and four penalty minutes. It wasn’t until October 1st, ten days before his 16th birthday, when he would score his first two QMJHL goals. In the games that followed, he would add 40 to that total and lead the Rimouski in both goals and points despite being several years younger than his teammates. A CHL Rookie of the Year award awaited him following the 2017-18 season, along with plenty of other individual accolades.
They wouldn’t end there.
In each of the next two seasons, Lafreniere would not only lead his team in scoring, but dominate the competition on a nightly basis. In 113 regular season games he scored 217 points, winning CHL Player of the Year in each season despite leaving his team both years to compete in the World Juniors for Canada, the youngest player since Connor McDavid to make that prestigious roster.
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