There has been some speculation over the last few days regarding the future of potential 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere and where he would play next season. Some believed Lafreniere would seek an opportunity overseas the same way that Auston Matthews did when he played a year in the Swiss NLA prior to his draft, but the young forward has set the record straight. Momentum Hockey Agency, who represent Lafreniere, have released this statement (via Bob McKenzie of TSN):
There have been discussions with certain clubs in Europe in the last few months. When dealing with a young player like Alexis, it’s important to evaluate every option in order to make the best decision for his short and long term career. After a great deal of consideration with the player and his family, the decision was unanimous to remain with the Rimouski Oceanic for the 2019-2020 season.
Lafreniere, who is still just 17 years old, would have had several hurdles to overcome even to be eligible to play overseas. All that will be forgotten now, and he can focus on dominating the QMJHL like he has for the past year and a half. In 107 regular season games with Rimouski, Lafreniere has 74 goals and 167 points to go along with a +88 rating. His presence makes the Oceanic a dangerous playoff matchup and could potentially lead the team to a Memorial Cup berth if they can get through the tough league playoffs.
The 2020 draft is still more than 16 months away, but Lafreniere is the early favorite to go first overall. Already big enough to hold his own against older players, the 6’1″ forward looks as though he will mature even further physically and can already protect the puck extremely well. His skill around the net is already at a high level, and he seems to be able to make decisions and movements quicker than any of his contemporaries. An all-around impact forward, there’s no reason to believe he won’t completely dominate the competition in the CHL next season.
That domination is why some hoped he would pursue an opportunity in a professional league, as there is little left to accomplish in the CHL. Sure, there are team goals that Lafreniere will hope to reach with Rimouski but his development may slow a bit given the lack of competition. Still, teams are salivating at the idea of bringing him into their organization in June 2020 and seeing what heights he can reach offensively.