An enigma or just a young player trying to find his way?
That’s the question many people in the hockey world have asked with regards to newly signed Edmonton Oilers Prospect Raphael Lavoie.
Lavoie could possibly be the steal of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
The highly skilled power forward has all the tools to be effective pro, but definitely needs to work on one facet of his game that many young players/pros have to figure out to reach their full potential at the next level, consistency.
The Fight For Consistency
Arguably consistency has been Raphael Lavoie’s Achilles heel.
This might be one of the major factors Lavoie fell considerably at last June’s NHL Entry draft.
It’s undeniably that Lavoie has game breaking talent, and it just seems that the switch is sometimes turned on or off.
The hockey world has collectively seen Lavoie take over games and be dominant while invisible during other outings. Lavoie has the ability to get to the net almost at will, but that’s where the consistency aspect comes into play.
Lavoie has to go to the dirty areas of the ice with more frequency in order to let his full potential shine through. The quiet shy soft spoken forward is sometimes misunderstood. There is some buzz on Lavoie with regards to his compete level, work ethic and character, and that’s led some people to believe he’s overrated.
That’s certainly not the case and truly unfair, inaccurate and down right wrong to when considering a young player still trying to find his way.
I believe it all comes back to consistency and finding that consistency on a regular basis shift in, shift out.
Lavoie has a temper and when motivated or challenged that’s when the kid from Chambly, Quebec plays inspired and becomes a lethal weapon.
Lavoie is at his best when he plays with passion and feistiness.
A possible knock on Lavoie is speed and explosiveness and how he will adapt to that aspect at the next level.
Everything will fall into place when Lavoie finds his compete level and consistency.
Lavoie is probably two years away from the NHL and will be a very effective top six forward for the Oilers for years to come.
I interviewed Lavoie early on last year for article that never got published.
Here’s what the future Oiler and his former coach Eric Veilleux had to say.
Originally Written in Oct 2018
On His Own Terms
The Halifax Mooseheads are known for having future NHL stars in their line up. The next in a long list of NHL top prospects is power forward Raphael Lavoie.
Lavoie witnessed the pressure and attention that the NHL Draft creates first hand a season ago when countless Mooshead teammates went through that process.
“For sure it helps, you see how they dealt with the pressure and how calm they were and how they managed their game, and I’m trying to do the same,” Lavoie confessed.
“They had a good year last year, I’m trying to do the same this year and we are handling the pressure the best that we can.”
The Chambly, Quebec product is coming off a breakout season with the Herd that saw the offensively gifted forward amass 63 points in 68 games.
Lavoie understands the importance of the season from a personal perspective, but remains focused on team success.
“I don’t have a lot of personal goals, I’m just trying to play well and see what happens,” Lavoie said.
“As a team we want to win the Memorial Cup, but we have to focus on the season and playoffs first.”
The 6”4 center is off to a tremendous start amassing 11 goals and 18 points in 15 games this season.
Lavoie still remains driven to improve.
“I’m working on my first three steps, I’m a pretty big so, I’m trying to work on my acceleration. It would be helpful to my game if I become a lot faster on the ice,” said the soft-spoken modest 18-year-old.
Lavoie a team first guy through and through is extremely excited to have the opportunity to play for Memorial Cup in May.
“Cam has done a tremendous job,” said Lavoie on building the Memorial Cup contender.
“Cam brought in guys like Sammy, Morand, Mahar and Ostap.”
“They are all guys that went to pro camp, they bring experience.”
Sammy, Morand and Mahar won with Bathurst, they know what it takes to win. We are trying to have a Championship team,” stressed Lavoie.
Halifax Moosheads Head Coach Eric Veilleux was hired to do just that.
One of Cam Russell’s biggest moves in the off-season was hiring Eric Veilleux.
Veilleux’s experience at the junior and pro ranks is invaluable for players wanting to take the next step, nonetheless the long time coach understands the pressure that Lavoie and others may be experiencing.
“It’s easier said than done,” Veilleux said of handling that pressure.
“It’s always going to be there, you can’t erase it, they know that, it’s up to them to be able to manage that, it’s not going to change.”
Veilleux believes Lavoie is a special player. “I think his compete level and will to go the net whatever the cost will bring him to the NHL,” Veilleux said.
“Raphael drives the net and goes around D’s, he goes in dangerous areas not only to bring the puck to the net, but obviously getting scoring chances.”
“It’s a big quality for a hockey player and he possesses that,” said Veilleux of Lavoie’s ability to get to the net.
“Talent wise, Raphael has enormous talent offensively and right now he’s reliable defensively as well. He’s going to be a good player,” said the Mooseheads Head Coach.
The former Memorial Cup Champion coach’s advice to NHL Draft eligible players is very clear. “They just have to play the right way and play for the team and think about the team and things will fall in place for them personally after that.”
“Right now Raphael has all the tools, it’s just a matter of him bringing that to another level. He has the full package, he’s big, he can take care of himself physically and he’s not worried about retrieving pucks in the corner, he’s a good all around player, with a special touch offensively,” Veilleux said.
Lavoie eclipsed the 30-goal plateau in 2017-2018. After the Mooseheads were eliminated from the playoffs in the second round Lavoie went on to represent Canada at the U-18’s World Championship where he had 5 goals in 5 games.
His play at that tournament certainly caught the eye of Hockey Canada and the coaching staff of the World Junior team.
“It’s an honour to represent your country, I got a late invite to summer camp, but it was still a good thing to go there and a good experience,” Lavoie said of the Canada’s World Junior showcase camp.
“It would be awesome if I get an invite for the camp in December, we are going to work for that, I can’t know for sure, so I have work for it and earn it,” said the highly skilled power forward.
Raphael Lavoie is taking all the attention surrounding his draft year in stride and trying to handle the pressure on his own terms.
We all know how the Mooseheads season ended last year.
The heartbreak of losing the President Cup and Memorial Cup to the same team had to take its toll on everyone.
Nevertheless, Russell is building towards another championship run in a few seasons and is well on his way by picking up a plethora of draft picks and assets by trading away the likes of Lavoie, McIsaac, and Groulx.
If there is any organization that understands the rebuilding process it’s the Halifax Mooseheads.
Time will tell, but it would be appear the Mooseheads could be ready for a strong push within two seasons.
As far as Lavoie’s progression is concerned, since the subsequent trade to the Sags, the highly skilled offensively minded forward has excelled.
In 25 games with Chicoutimi this season Lavoie scored 20 goals and added 18 assists.
Unfortunately many believe the verdict still isn’t out with regards to Lavoie’s full potential and in many cases that’s truly unfair.
Have we seen the best of Raphael Lavoie?
Time will tell!
The Edmonton Oilers definitely believe in his full potential and that’s all that matters.