Raphael Lavoie (6-foot-3, 191 pounds) is a right-handed center playing in his third season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Lavoie, 18, is an A rated skater in NHL Central Scouting's October Players to Watch list, and a projected first-round candidate for the 2019 NHL Draft. He had 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in 68 regular-season games last season, and has four points (three goals, one assist) and 19 shots on goal in four games this season. Lavoie will offer a draft diary each month for NHL.com leading up to the draft, June 21-22, 2019.
I am very pleased to be working with NHL.com throughout what is already a very exciting season for me, with the NHL Draft on the horizon, and the Halifax Mooseheads.
Since Halifax will host the 2019 Memorial Cup tournament, we will automatically take part as the host team.
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So we already know that we'll be there no matter what, but there's no question none of us are resting on our laurels. I think we have a really good team and the guys want to win; we started our season with four straight victories and are currently 4-1-0.
We want to prepare as much as possible for this big challenge, and it starts with the regular season. We must try not to think too much about the Memorial Cup because it's a long way off. But I'll admit that's not easy since every time we give an interview we're asked about it.
And honestly, it's not something we can put out of our minds. Our new head coach, Éric Veilleux, experienced the same situation in Shawinigan in 2012 and he brings his experience into our locker room, which is very good for all of us.
His message is clear. Yes, we'll be there at the end, but the season and the President's Cup playoffs are just as important. He will not tolerate us neglecting that and that's something he made clear right from our first meeting.
The Mooseheads have always been important in Halifax. The fans are always very excited at the beginning of the season, but we really feel that excitement this year. They talk a lot about it and they look forward to it. They really hope to relive the same emotions they experienced during the Mooseheads' last Memorial Cup title in 2013.
In addition to our core that has developed together in recent seasons, we have added three players who won the Memorial Cup last year with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan: Antoine Morand (Anaheim Ducks), Samuel Asselin and Jordan Maher.
They are very good people and good leaders who will bring their experience. They have already lived what we are going to go through, so they know what it takes to get where we want to go. They will help us a lot.
For my part, I must also deal with the attention that comes with the fact that this is my NHL Draft-eligible season. And there's no hiding it, that will be on my mind. As far as I'm concerned, any player who says he doesn't think about it is not being completely honest. But that won't change my way of approaching things.
I'm starting my second full season in the QMJHL and every campaign has its ups and downs. Of course, there will be some this year. The trick is learning how to handle it when things aren't going well so that you can get back on track as quickly as possible.
They say I'm a potential first-round pick in the draft and that comes with its share of media attention. It's pressure, but that's part of the game. You have to learn to deal with that. I play hockey, it's a well-publicized sport and the more my career progresses, the more pressure there will be. To be honest, it's something that doesn't really stress me out that much.
I will talk to you again next month!