(Written August 11th 2018)
Team Canada won last night in a way that probably shouldn't have happened.
A goal was allowed despite it being scored a fraction of a second too late. The arena had the ability to see it wasn't a goal, but due to the tournament not having replay at the other venues, it was deemed unfair to only use it at Rogers Place. This cost the Americans their shot at a Hlinka Gretzky Cup. It's unfortunate for the fans but for Canadians we will still take a win.
After watching Canada win a very controversial game I decided to get off my butt and write an article about my favourite Canadian player in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup so far, Alexis Lafrenière.
He is the type of player that after watching him play just a few games in this tournament I'm already hooked. He's an addictive player to watch with a type of silent swagger to his game. Lafrenière was also chosen to be the captain despite the fact he is the second-youngest Team Canada player which speaks volumes to what the coaching staff thinks of him.
Just a brief aside about the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. So far it's been an absolute treat to watch this tournament. These kids are playing at such a high speed and the back and forth action is palpable. If you happened to miss it so far the Gold Medal game is on tonight where Team Canada takes on Sweden... and the Bronze Medal between Russia/USA should be equally entertaining!
Alexis came onto our radar by scoring 42 goals and notching 80 points in 60 games for the Rimouski Océanic in the QMJHL while being named rookie of the year as a 16 year old. Before that he was drafted first overall by Rimouski in 2017 from his hometown midget AAA Saint-Eustache Vikings.
Important for comparisons' sake that the only player who had more points then him as a rookie in the QMJHL last season was recent draft pick Filip Zadina (who we covered in a previous article) and Zadina is 2 years his senior.
Alexis Lafrenière is a player you notice the moment he comes over the boards. He's an absolute sparkplug who seems to float around the ice untouchable to anyone. His ability to find teammates in traffic and make quick plays makes me foam at the mouth. He seems to have the puck on a string at times and if he doesn't have the puck he seems to always be wide open or standing around the net like a true goal scorer; hungry for a tip in or juicy rebound.
If you're still having doubts about this kid you should put them to rest. While some scouts are comparing him to a young Sidney Crosby I think that might be a stretch. He is drawing these comparisons because he became the first 16-year-old in the QMJHL to record a 40-goal season since Crosby did it in 2004 (but keep in mind Crosby also put up a ton of assists and over 100 points that season).
40 goals in any league is impressive for any player, but its unheard of for a 16 year old in the QMJHL.
The term generational talent gets thrown around a lot these days, but this kid appears to be one. While his game still needs work in certain areas (skating, consistency) his offensive game is an absolute nightmare to defend against. He still has a long road to being drafted so we may put an asterisk beside the word generational, but he's easily the most exciting prospect in the 2020 draft.
Already standing at 6’0, 170-pounds this centre is going to be talked about a lot over the coming years and for good reason. Our NHL comparison is a more creative Steven Stamkos.
Alex is not eligible for the NHL entry draft until 2020 but we urge you to remember his name. I cant wait to see him again at the World Junior Tournament that begins Boxing day and runs through January 5th where team Canada battles for back to back gold's on home turf.
Start the tank conversations now, he will be worth it.