After not having a first-round selection in last year’s draft (still loving that Tomas Tatar trade!), the Vegas Golden Knights are back in the first round this year.
The Knights’ first go at making a first-round selection went quite well. Cody Glass, drafted No. 6 overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, is looking like a serious contender to play in the NHL next season. His play with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves has been outstanding, and it may only be a matter of time before we see the freshly-turned 20-year-old in a Golden Knights sweater.
However, the odds of Vegas selecting a player of Glass’ caliber in this year’s draft are not high. Though this year’s draft class is above average, a player selected at No. 17 overall will typically require more time to develop than a player like Glass, who was nothing short of sensational in his draft year. Still, there should be a number of very good prospects on the board when the Golden Knights make their selection. And if Vegas plays its cards right, one of them could end up making a significant impact in Sin City one day.
With the No. 17 overall pick in SB Nation’s 2019 NHL Mock Draft, Knights On Ice selects forward Raphael Lavoie from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
2018-19 season review
Lavoie broke out during the 2017-18 season, scoring 30 goals and 63 points in 68 games for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. Going into the 2018-19 season, many expected the Montreal native to take another step forward and dominate the QMJHL. Unfortunately for Lavoie, he did not quite live up to the hype. But even though he wasn’t necessarily a dominant player, Lavoie was still very good for the Mooseheads this season, scoring 32 goals and 73 points in 62 regular-season games.
His performance in the regular season wasn’t what impresses scouts, though.
Lavoie was nearly unstoppable in the playoffs. In 23 postseason contests, he scored 20 goals and 32 points to help guide the Mooseheads all the way to the Memorial Cup final. Though his team wound up falling to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for the championship, Lavoie was largely responsible for the Mooseheads making it that far in the tournament to begin with.
At 6-foot-4 and nearly 200 pounds, Lavoie moves very well — especially for a bigger forward. It may not look like it thanks to his longer strides, but he can dart up and down the ice about as well as most skaters in this year’s draft. He isn’t quite as physical as one might expect from a player his size, but he has a very long reach that comes in handy in the defensive zone. It is not uncommon to see him use his long stick to block passing lanes and disrupt opposing teams’ sequences, and this is partially why he earned a role on the Mooseheads’ penalty kill this season.
Of course, Lavoie also has no shortage of offensive skills. For a player who’s scored 92 goals (regular season and postseason) in three years in the QMJHL, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. He possesses an NHL shot capable of beating goalies even from a sizable distance and his puck skills are good enough that he can create high-danger scoring chances on his own. His vision stands out as well, though he is more of a scoring threat than a playmaker.
Lavoie does a good job of showcasing his skills in the example provided below. He first picks up a loose puck in the neutral zone and races into enemy territory unaccompanied by his teammates. He uses his reach to keep the puck at a safe distance from an enemy defender’s stick, slams on the breaks and delays back waiting for other Halifax skaters to join him in the attacking zone. He then finds fellow Halifax forward Jordan Maher entering the zone and feeds him with a pretty saucer pass over an enemy’s stick. Eventually, Maher beats the enemy goaltender with a backhander to extend the Mooseheads’ lead.
The Bottom Line
The main criticism of Lavoie is that, despite being one of the older players in this year’s draft, his production didn’t quite match what many were expecting at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. Once considered a potential top-10 pick, Lavoie has fallen down some draft boards and will likely be available when the Golden Knights are on the clock.
Though his 2018-19 campaign was somewhat underwhelming, Lavoie still possesses the tools necessary to be a good NHL player. At the very least, he figures to be a solid 200-foot player with a ton of upside. If he reaches his full potential, he could be a very dangerous player at the next level. The Golden Knights like big skater who play a good two-way game, and Lavoie fits the criteria.
Let’s take a look at who the 16 team sites ahead of us took with their first-round selections:
1. New Jersey selects Jack Hughes, via All About The Jersey.
2. NY Rangers select Kaapo Kakko, via Blueshirt Banter.
3. Chicago selects Alex Turcotte, via Second City Hockey.
4. Colorado selects Kirby Dach, via Mile High Hockey.
5. Los Angeles selects Dylan Cozens, via Jewels From The Crown.
6. Detroit selects Bowen Byram, via Winging It In Motown.
7. Buffalo selects Cole Caufield, via Die By The Blade.
8. Edmonton selects Peyton Krebs, via Copper & Blue.
9. Anaheim selects Trevor Zegras, via Anaheim Calling.
10. Vancouver selects Matthew Boldy, via Nucks Misconduct.
11. Philadelphia selects Alex Newhook, via Broad Street Hockey
12. Minnesota selects Vasili Podkolzin, via Hockey Wilderness
13. Florida selects Philip Broberg, via Litter Box Cats
14. Arizona selects Victor Soderstrom, via Five For Howling
15. Montreal selects Thomas Harley, via Eyes On The Prize
16. NY Rangers select Arthur Kaliyev, via Blueshirt Banter
Notable players still on the board at the time of our selection:
- Ryan Suzuki
- Spencer Knight
- Moritz Seider
- Samuel Poulin
- Cam York
- Bobby Brink
- Philip Tomasino
- Nils Hoglander
- Matthew Robertson
Do you agree with our selection of Raphael Lavoie with the No. 17 pick of the 2019 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft?
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