The World Junior Summer Showcase and Hlinka-Gretzky tournaments are now over, and junior aged players will soon be heading back to their respective teams to get the season underway. The summer headlines were dominated by performances by Jack Hughes, but one young talent may have impressed even more. Alexis Lafreniere won’t be eligible for selection in the NHL Entry Draft until 2020, but could already be one of Canada’s top forwards at the upcoming World Junior tournament. Craig Button of TSN believes the 16-year old Lafreniere should be at the selection camp and could easily climb out of a “13th forward” role normally given to underaged players.
Lafreniere already has a full season in the QMJHL under his belt despite not turning 17 until October and he registered 42 goals which ranked sixth in the entire league. There’s no doubt he’s already one of the CHL’s most talented offensive players, which may lead to a starring role at the late December tournament despite his age. Though teams often try to load up on as many 19-year old players as possible for the U20 tournament, the potential first-overall pick in 2020 could shake things up with a good first part of the CHL season.
- Anyone that might have been worried about the progress of the New York Islanders future home at Belmont Park can rest easy, as Lou Lamoriello today told Brian Compton of NHL.com that the arena plans are still “100 percent” on track for 2021. The new building will give the Islanders a permanent home and a chance to build some organizational consistency moving forward, something they’ve lacked in recent years. With the John Tavares era over, and a bunch of new voices running the show in Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz, the Islanders are trying to turn things around and get back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in more than thirty years.
- William Nylander remains without a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but James Mirtle of The Athletic was on TSN Radio where he explained the two sides may wait until much closer to training camp next month to sign a deal. Mirtle suggests that it would likely be either a two-year or six-year contract, given that a seven or eight-year pact would likely get too pricey for the Maple Leafs. Dylan Larkin’s new $6.1MM cap hit is brought up as a “pressure point” which we’ve noted in the past, and could drive Nylander’s price up even further if the Maple Leafs intend on buying out any unrestricted free agent years. Toronto heads to camp in a month, and would presumably like to have their final restricted free agent under contract and in uniform on the first day.