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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 12, 2020
MONTREAL — As a rule, first-round draft choices are considered prospects. Everybody selected on the second day qualifies as suspects.
It usually stays that way until those players begin their time in the American Hockey League.
But it might be time to move Raphael Lavoie from the suspects list to the prospects list.
At 6-foot-4 and 196-pounds, the Oilers second-round pick at No. 38 overall is becoming a more prized prospect than maybe he was when Edmonton picked him last June.
With 32 goals in 62 games in his draft year with the Mooseheads, Lavoie scored 20 more in 23 games in the playoffs and two more in the Memorial Cup.
Lavoie put his name on a game in the current Canada-Russia Series when he scored his second goal of the night 1:58 into overtime as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League All-Stars defeated Russia in Moncton in the second game of the annual Canada-Russia Series. He also scored one in the first game.
He has 13 goals and 30 points in his first 20 regular-season games as the league champion dropped to eighth place in the Eastern Division.
“It’s a great thing,” he said Lavoie of what happened in the Canada-Russia Series as he and his teammates completed their 13-hour bus trip from Halifax, and moved into the Montreal area to begin a road trip that starts Wednesday evening against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
“I had an opportunity to show what I can do to the people at Hockey Canada and I feel like I grabbed it and made the most of it,” he said of his hopes of making Team Canada for this year’s World Junior in the Czech Republic.
“Good players raise their games when they need to and that’s what I do.”
Lavoie said he wasn’t devastated when he wasn’t selected in the first round last June.
“It really didn’t matter to me. All I wanted was to get drafted by an NHL team. It was a dream come true when it happened. It was incredible to get drafted by such a great organization with so much talent in it.”
Lavoie says he has a huge hunger to play in the World Junior.
“I want it really bad,” he said.
“Everyone wants to represent their country and have the honour to represent their country, and to have the honour to do so would mean a lot to me. I can bring some offence and score some goals.”
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Hockey Hall of Fame writer Jim Matheson talks to host Craig Ellingson about the Oilers and their upcoming slate of Western games and about how they got to this point: with improved defensive play, the emergence of Ethan Bear, solid goaltending by the tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith, and the continued scoring prowess of Leon Draisaitl — the NHL’s leading scorer — and Connor McDavid.
“I hope to become the kind of player that makes the Oilers win,” he added.
“Raph is a player who enjoys being on the ice when the game is on the line,” observed Mooseheads coach J.J. Daigneault.
“He’s what I’d call a leader by occasion. He feels he can get that big game-breaking goal.
“He did score some big goals in the playoffs last season according to last season’s staff,” said the new Halifax bench boss. “But what I see in him this season is a player who takes charge on the ice and wants to have the puck on his blade.
“As we stand right now, Raph is not only the best Mooseheads offensive player but also the one who generates the most scoring chances.
“His shoot-first mentality is probably one of the main reasons for that stat. But that said, he also gets defensive transition chances as well, cases where he back-checks hard and is able to re-attack quickly.
“Raph needs to be consistent and focused and better understand the value of positioning on defence. But he understands that he needs to improve that part of the game.”
Scott Howson, the Oilers VP of player development, has been the Oilers point man monitoring the Chambly, Que., native.
“Rafael has had a good start to the season in Halifax. He is scoring and has continued to produce like he did in last year’s run to the Memorial Cup.
“The challenge for him is to play at a consistent basis. He can dominate at that level.
“I was at both games against the Russians. I actually thought he played better in the first game. He was physical and had a high competitive level. He scored a goal in that game by going hard to the net and jamming a loose puck into the net.
“He played well in that second game, too. His energy level was down a little from the previous night. He’s a one-shot scorer and we saw that in overtime.
“All in all, he made a positive statement in his bid to make Canada’s World Junior team.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019