Alexis Lafreniere has been in hockey’s spotlight for quite some time.
That spotlight has never shined more brightly on the soft-spoken quiet 18-year-old than this season.
Everything has boiled down to this, the wait and anticipation is palpable. The 2020 NHL Entry Draft awaits.
In a year that most players deem to be the most stressful in their lives, Lafrenière has handled it with unparalleled dignity and class.
Some would say he’s even embraced the enormity of the NHL Draft year.
You see Alexis Lafrenière has been the center of attention his entire life.
The quiet soft-spoken kid from St. Eustache, Quebec has been labelled from a very young age as being “hockey’s next superstar.”
There’s no escaping the attention, the pressure and the enormous expectations that comes with being the best junior aged hockey player in the world.
Like so many of the great ones before, Alexis Lafreniere is extremely comfortable in hockey’s super crazed spotlight.
Hockey’s spotlight has been known to change those who have graced its presence.
There’s no changing Alexis Lafrenière.
Hockey’s next superstar is as grounded as ever.
I spoke to the young phenom after Wednesday nights OT loss at the hands of the Moncton Wildcats.
1) CE: What have you learned about yourself in this journey this year and how do you think you are handling everything surrounding your draft year?
AL: “I think it’s going pretty well.”
“The organization has been there for me, and we are going through this all together with my teammates and it’s been a lot of fun.”
“It’s been a fun ride and I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it.”
2) CE: Is this year everything you would thought it would be and have you talked to other players that have gone through what you are going through presently like other 1st round, 1st overall draft picks?
AL: “Yeah a little bit, but I didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into this year, you know just playing as good as I could.”
“I was ready this year, and I knew it was going to be big year, but I have just tried to enjoy every moment and that’s what I’m still doing.”
3) CE: Does it feel surreal to have all the attention, people demanding to talk with you all the time and autographs and that type of thing?
AL: “You know it’s always fun to see that.”
“I think if I can inspire people to be better, it’s fun and you know that’s what I try to do and be as good as I can.”
4) CE: What steps have the organization taken to isolate you and reduce the amount of demands so you can focus on playing and obviously with #87 coming through they have been through this before?
AL: “You know they are helping me through that, all the organization has been there for me.”
“They are trying to let me play hockey and let me focus as much as I can, and I really appreciate it.”
5) CE: What aspects are you working on everyday to get to the next level?
AL: “For sure I’m working on my play without the puck.”
“There’s a lot of things that I can work on, I think my game can improve like working on my skating, my shot and things like that to be better at the higher level.”
6) CE: You have played with Cedric (Pare) and Dmitry (Zavorgorodniy) all year what’s it like playing with them and how good as that chemistry been with your line mates?
AL: “It’s been good, Cedric is playing a good 200 ft. game and for me I think it’s great for me to have a centremen like this that can pick up pucks in every zone and he can shoot the puck, so I think every time I feed him it’s always a scoring chance.”
7) CE: Two years ago in your rookie year during an interview you talked about how special this group was going to be in two years. Is it everything that you expected?
AL: “Yes, I think we really have a special group and I think we can play really good against anyone and the way we stick together every time, I think it’s really big for us, and that’s something that makes us special.”
There’s no question the Rimouski Oceanic are a special team, led by a very special player and person.