The Next One?

The Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL have already produced great players in Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavalier. A lot of people who are more in the know than I think we might be seeing the next one at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton this week in the form of Team Canada captain Alexis Lafreniere.

Included in that number, many of the 285 scouts registered at this tournament, seen as the kick-off point for assessing players who’ll be taken in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Lafreniere, 16, won’t be drafted until 2020, when he’ll likely be the consensus first overall pick, but there’s already quite a buzz about the uber-talented left winger from St. Eustache, Que.

Lafreniere, who tallied 42-38-80 in just 60 games with the Oceanic this season, picked up a couple of assists in Team Canada’s 10-0 romp over Team Switzerland to open the tournament on Monday. Drafted first overall in the 2017 QMJHL bantam draft, Lafreniere’s 42 goals are the most scored by a 16-year-old in the Q since Crosby sniped 54 in 2003-04. Fair or not, the inevitable comparisons follow.

“It’s nice, but I think Crosby’s on another level,” Lafreniere said this spring about the comparisons and hype surrounding him. “He’s already winning Cups and gold medals. I just try to do my stuff. That will be good.”

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With a roster laden with players projected to go in the first round of the 2019 draft, it says something about Lafreniere that Team Canada named him captain. “You’re talking about an elite offensive player,” says Craig Button, who talks about Lafreniere’s quick hands and quick mind. You can listen to Button’s full assessment here.

As for Lafreniere, he’s well aware of the buzz that follows him, but, like most kids his age, he’s most comfortable letting his actions out on the ice do the talking for him. Jim Matheson of Post Media and I caught up with the Team Canada captain after the speed-bagging of Team Switzerland Monday.

“I’m just starting my career so I want to focus on myself. I’m me,” said Lafreniere when asked about following in the sizeable footsteps of Lecavalier and Crosby out of Rimouski. “It’s a long road until I get there (NHL) so I just want to focus on my game and try to be myself.”

With a roster that includes Lafreniere as well as top prospects for the 2019 Entry Draft like Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Peyton Krebs of the Kootenay Ice, Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades, Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants and Matthew Robertson of the Edmonton Oil Kings, there’s plenty of talent to see at Rogers Place this week. Stop by if you can, you’ll be glad you did.

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No matter how long you’ve been around or how well-known you’d like to think you might be in hockey circles, it’s my experience that there’s always somebody who doesn’t have the first clue who you are, especially when it comes to issuing media credentials.

That’s how the handle Rubin Bronte was born – it was issued to me by the media relations crew of the Toronto Maple Leafs on my last trip into Maple Leaf Gardens before the team moved to the Air Canada Centre years ago. Instant keeper.

It happened again this week with the Hlinka Gretzky Tournament. I became Robin Brownless. No big thing and worth a laugh. That’s nothing, though, compared to Derek Van Diest of Post Media. He became Derek Van Diesel. Much hilarity ensued.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Hockeysense9393

    I’m gonna sing a song for you…it goes like this.

    Dubnyk, Dubnyk, Dubnyk…
    Haaaaall, Haaall, Hall…
    Eberle 4 Strome!

    Reeiinhaaart Baaaarrzaaal
    Luuuu wanting out?!

    Dubnyk/Hall…already ouch!
    Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch…..

    Russell…Larsson psssst!
    Sekera, Benning, Klefbom…
    Nuuuursssse is oookkk!

    TALBOT dubnyk TALBOT dubnyk Tal!! ouuiichy…

    (Fade to black)

    “Anybody give a s*** aboouuuttt Yak…u…poovv!

        • HOCKEY83

          They’re not my wingers. But I am a fan of both teams more so Calgary Flames but how can you not love watching McDavid play and Draisaitl for that matter. Both teams Flames and Oilers have been losers for about 20 or more years now. So both sides win the “who is the biggest loser battle”. There is no Battle of Alberta and won’t be until they meet in the playoffs again if they ever do no matter how bad you try to force it. Uselessly coming over and hijacking an article like a brain damaged child is is the reason we get it over on the FN site all the time. It’s selfish to the writers who put in the work and to the hockey fans who want to talk about the article. Not sure why they just don’t ban you unless what you do is what they want.

          • Hockeysense9393

            That is a real passive aggressive way of looking at it there Hockey83. I tend to agree with you, being a hockey fan first before all. Hence why I think that it’s healthy to state an opinion that’s a little more educated then just being a homer citizen. You have your opinions as well as I do. No reason to get personal and hit with malice? Hockey fans go to all the forums to stimulate talk and have a little fun. FN gets it all the time…I don’t think the majority of us take it personally. Tell you what…you feel picked on? Then stay here where you feel safe and stay away from FN…cuz obviously you can’t hack it.

          • HOCKEY83

            I don’t feel picked on at all. I just felt bad for the writer and the article you hijacked. There are very few folks over at FN who appreciate what you do over here. You do seem to have some educated opinions at FN but I’ve seen no evidence of you having any sort of an education over here on the ON site.

  • Redbird62

    Well at least he got off to a much better start than Joe Veleno had in the Q. Joe was the first player to get into the Q being granted exceptional status at 15 and at 16 many were projecting him to be a very high NHL pick like Tavares, Ekblad and McDavid were. He went 30th overall in the draft this year. Hopefully Alexis keeps trending upward.

  • Abagofpucks

    Oh and speaking of the past do you remember the year the flames won every game against in the regular season. Then the playoffs came around and all of calgary thought they were gonna kick our asses and we swept you that must have scared you for life huh?

    • Hockeysense9393

      Ok…the Oilers have a 7-2 record in the past 2 years against the Flames. It took the Oilers 15 years (let that sink in) 15 years before they had a winning season against the Flames. Flames beat the Oilers the last 2 games played with a shutout. What were you saying again???

  • FISTO Siltanen

    So Brownlee writes an interesting article on a phenomal young player and the comments section gets jammed by a troll? Not to pit you guys against the sister site but credit to their thin skin for keeping these hijackings to a minimum.

    • Hockeysense9393

      My work is done here! lol.

      Again…my apologies to Brownlee. It was a very good article and I do enjoy your words. This was somewhat retaliatory to trolls in our neck of the woods…but truth kind of hurts too. Let the games begin!!!

      • 2centz

        The Flames are full of dumb moves too bud. You guys traded Brett Hull for Rick Wamsley, drafted Trevor Kidd ahead of Martin Broduer, put Martin St.Louis on waivers as well as Daniel Briere, drafted Sam Bennett 4th overall and traded Noah Dobson and Jett Woo for Travis Hamonic, as well as trading away the Defenceman with the most goals in the league last year, because he didn’t fit in with the rest of the D Bags you guys have on your roster. So don’t come on here after smoking bath salts, we’ve won more cups than you’ve lost. Your guys arena was stupid looking when it was new, now 50yrs later it looks…. your guys football stadium looks like it used to be a landfill or still is or maybe there’s one close by? Calgary is Canada’s Detroit, do enough of you guys down there even still have jobs, so you can fill that ugly arena? I think you drank too much flood water pal.

        • Hockeysense9393

          I’m gonna remember your name there 2centz, only cuz you’re opinion isn’t even worth that lol. Wow…comparing the murder capital of Canada that can’t seem to get out of its own government kitchen? Ok…government workers step aside and then let’s count up who’s still standing. football stadium? Yeah it’s sucks…cuz we didn’t rely on government funding. Arena…yeah it’s old, from one of the only successfully run Olympics of all time. Big mall? Bankrupt government bailout. Arena? Government funded that was built mostly by Mexicans (couldn’t even make a deal to put Edmonton people to work). Government, government, government. Yeah I know…Calgary tends to take care of their own. Good one.

  • Spoils

    it’s summer. I just won EA18 Stanley Cup with the three center unicorn line-up and it was hard to deny how tough it can be to compete against 3 stud Cs – If Yammer and Pulj step up this year… or in the future, when we are making a run and we bring in a couple more wingers… I think we are going to like it (i get the cap challenge)…


  • OilCan2

    Speaking of the Not Legal in Vegas crowd. McDavid, Puljujarvi, Yamamoto and Bouchard should be fun to watch this season. I hope the kid from the Q does well. I always thought Lemiuex and Bossy were the best ever from PQ.

  • Reg Dunlop

    What’s yellow and can skate? Stan Chiquita. A true legend has passed and part of my childhood with it. Penalty minute leader one year, Lady Byng the next? One of a kind.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Dave Keon won back to back 61/62 & 62/63 Lady Byng’s with one tripping call against him each year. 2 PIM, that is incredible, especially in such a tough league. Granted, he was small, so I can see that he wouldn’t want to stir things up.