For those shifting their focus to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, it is challenging to deviate their attention from the premier prospects of the class. Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are the undisputed first two picks. However, for the middle of the road teams, such as the Flyers, getting the opportunity to bring one of these prospects is unlikely. Luckily, the opening round of this particular draft is loaded with talent. Teams picking in the middle to late part of the round still have the chance of selecting a true game changer. For Philadelphia, that player could be Raphael Lavoie.
Lavoie, a 6-foot-4 forward from Montreal, is currently turning heads in the QMJHL playing for the Halifax Mooseheads. He is offensive-minded, uses his size to his advantage, and describes himself as a “power forward”. Lavoie explained, “I’m pretty good at bringing pucks to the net. I have a good shot. I have pretty good hands.” He also comes with some comedic confidence, claiming, “I’m a pretty good player haha.”
Lavoie’s self-assessment is pretty spot on. Producing scoring chances for himself or others is a key part of his overall game and it shows on the stat sheet. This season for Halifax, he posted 32 goal and 41 assists in 62 games. He’s got an incredibly accurate shot that makes scoring from anywhere on the ice possible. Additionally, his net-front presence provides countless opportunities for deflections and screens. Scoring 30-plus goals is now an expectation for Lavoie in the “Q” as he’s done so for the past two seasons. He’s seen an increase in his assist number this year, jumping from 33 the following year to 41. His overall vision and awareness have improved. He is able to hold onto the puck and wait for something to develop. Also, his ability to cause havoc in front of the opposition’s net provides a ton of opportunities for his teammates.
The young forward already understands what type of player he is and models his game after someone with a similar style. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf has made a name for himself as a dominant playmaking power forward that succeeds at both ends of the ice. “He’s a pretty big guy, he’s a good two-way forward, he protects the puck pretty well, and he’s a good playmaker and he scores when it’s time to. I think he’s a good model for me.” If Lavoie can obtain anywhere near the amount of success Getzlaf has throughout his career, whoever drafts him will be more than pleased.
Still just 18-years-old, Lavoie understands that his development as a player is far from over. If he wants to achieve his lifelong goal of playing in the NHL, he has to continue to work. Lavoie is just as aware of his areas in need of work as he is his strengths. “Physical strength. I mean you watch the guys on TV and if I want to play with them I need to get stronger, I need to get bigger, and I need to get faster.”
Growing up in Montreal, Lavoie not only grew up loving the Canadiens, but hockey was also a way of life. “You go up watching hockey, playing hockey. You watch it on TV and you’re like I want to do that. It’s a dream since I was a little kid that I wanted to play there.” As is the case with most young hockey players, Lavoie had a strong support system in place to help him achieve his goals. The person he recognizes the most for doing this is his dad. “He always supported me and always brought me to any practices or stuff related to hockey and he really helped me be the player I am today.” The most ironic part about Lavoie’s biggest supporter, “My dad doesn’t really like hockey. He always wanted to support his kid. He loved me so whatever I was doing, he was gonna help.”
Raphael Lavoie and his family have been working countless hours to achieve his NHL dream. Not only is that hard work and dedication about to pay off and get him drafted, Lavoie has the potential to make a real impact wherever he goes.
In regards to the Flyers specifically, Lavoie would provide the organization with a legitimate top-six forward presence that can be slotted on the wing or at center. His ability to produce offense in a variety of ways, along with his size, would make him a true asset for the orange and black. The best part about all of this is Lavoie could very end up in Philadelphia. Lavoie will go somewhere in the middle of the first round. Right where the Flyers expect to pick.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Ryan Taplin