CHL Notebook: Rimouski’s Lafreniere headlines players generating early buzz


Rimouski Oceanic winger Alexis Lafreniere. (Vincent L. Rousseau)

Regular season action is set to begin around the Canadian Hockey League this week and there’s no shortage of talent available in all three leagues for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Rimouski Oceanic forward Alexis Lafreniere has been one of the most widely talked about prospects for the draft since entering the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the fall of 2017.

The 17-year-old has 79 goals in just two seasons of major junior and has been penciled in as the potential top pick in the draft for some time, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be challenged in some way by players across the country.

Among the players who could challenge Lafreniere is Sudbury Wolves forward Quinton Byfield.

A highly-skilled centre with size, Byfield has continued to impress scouts since being selected with the top pick in the OHL Priority Selection in April 2018.

"Q is a treat to watch," Sudbury coach Cory Stillman said. "There’s a guy who can do everything. He can win draws. He can make plays. He can score goals. He can do a lot by himself."

"The sky is the limit for him," Stillman added. "He’s that good of a player."

Byfield isn’t the lone Ontario Hockey League player who has turned some heads in the last year.

Saginaw Spirit forward Cole Perfetti had 74 points in his first OHL season and spent time on a line with Florida Panthers prospect Owen Tippet and Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod last season.

Perfetti is looked at as one of the top goal scorers available in the draft.

Among the top defencemen available for the draft are Justin Barron of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters, and Braden Schneider of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings.

Rounding out the best of the other top available players to keep an eye on around the QMJHL is Chicoutimi Sagueneens forward Hendrix Lapierre, who had 45 points last season in 48 games and had a strong showing in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August while playing for Team Canada.

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