The NHL draft lottery is scheduled for Friday, June 26, which likely will determine where top draft prospect Alexis Lafreniere will end up in the future. However, will that future begin in the 2020-21 season? With the NHL focused on the 24-team playoff format at the moment, little is known about when next season might get underway, although a long delay is expected before Lafreniere can start his NHL career.
With the playoffs likely to start in late July or August, it’s entirely possible that the 2020-21 season may not start until November or even later. With that being the case, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported recently on Insider Trading, that Lafreniere is likely to look into every possible option to get his season started on time. One possibility would be to sign a deal to play in Europe for a season (assuming that hockey starts in Europe on time).
“When is the National Hockey League going to begin the 2020-21 season? October? November? December? Even January? We don’t know,” said McKenzie. “On top of all that, where’s Alexis Lafreniere going to play this fall if the NHL season isn’t happening until January and the draft isn’t until October or November? Is the CHL going to be playing? Is the American Hockey League an option? We don’t know at this point. But one thing I can tell you – Emilie Castonguay for Alexis Lafreniere is looking at all the options on the table and that will include seeing if the European club teams are up and operating in September and October.”
Lafreniere, barring an unforeseen circumstance, is expected to be the first-overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft, but the draft is expected to be delayed until after the conclusion of the NHL playoffs, which could be in September or October. NHL.com’s Mike Morreale revealed that Lafreniere won the CHL’s Top Draft Prospect Award on Friday, his fourth award since his season with Rimouski Oceanic ended due to COVID-19. He also won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the leading scorer in the QMJHL with 112 points, the Paul Dumont Trophy for the QHJHL’s top personality and the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL’s top player.
The only notable comparison for such a move might be Auston Matthews, who played in the NLA. However, that was the year before he was drafted. Regardless, it still seems like a longshot that Lafreniere would pass up his first NHL season over a few months. The Detroit Red Wings have the best chances of winning the draft lottery at 18.5 percent.