Alexis Lafreniere, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, will write a diary this season for NHL.com leading up to the draft at Bell Centre in Montreal on June 26-27. The 17-year-old left wing, who plays for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was named the league's most valuable player after scoring 105 points (37 goals, 68 assists) in 61 regular-season games last season. Lafreniere (6-foot-1, 192 pounds) has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in five games this season. In his first entry, he discusses being named captain, meeting Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and expectations for the season.
I'm really excited to put together a diary for you on NHL.com this season to share with you this important year for my team and me.
To start this new season, my teammates gave me a huge honor by naming me captain of the Oceanic, who are celebrating their rich 25-year history. Let me tell you that it's a very special feeling to wear the 'C' in an organization where great players like Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Sidney Crosby have played.
Being named captain by my teammates will not change the way I approach things. There are a lot of leaders in this dressing room and I'm convinced that everybody will contribute in their own way.
I have only been captain one other time during my young career, and that was on Canada's Under-18 team that won the gold medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. I'm going to use that experience to make sure that I am the best leader I can be.
It's important for me to show the way to my teammates by my actions. That's the way I demonstrate my leadership. I think this gives a lot more weight to my words when I speak up in the room or on the bench. This season is off to a flying start. My teammates and I have had the privilege to witness a great moment in our team's history, the No. 87 jersey retirement ceremony for Crosby (on Sept. 27).
Despite the fact I was still very young when he played his two seasons in Rimouski (2003-05), I'm well aware of everything he accomplished in the QMJHL and with the Pittsburgh Penguins once he joined the NHL. There are not many people like Sidney Crosby, and I saw that for myself after the game.
It was almost midnight when Cedric Pare made a magnificent pass that led to my goal in overtime -- a goal that will always have a special place for me -- to give us a 4-3 win against the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Despite how late it was, Sidney came down to our dressing room to talk to each of our players and share stories about his time in Rimouski.
What struck me was his humility and his respect for others. He's the best player in the world, but more than that, he's a good person. I'd already heard a lot of nice stories about him and now I have one of my own. For him to take the time to show an interest in us gave our team a very special shared moment.
It was also brought to my attention that he had kind words to say about me during his press conference. That's very special, and at the same time it's flattering to hear that one of the greatest players to ever play the game is talking about you. But I prefer to stay humble and down to earth in all of this. I have to stay myself and make my own way. I focus on what I can control; that has always been my mentality.
The draft is still ways away and, for the time being, I am concentrating on the work that I have to do with the Oceanic. I have a good idea what to expect in June because I had the opportunity to experience the 2019 NHL Draft with my friends Samuel Poulin (Pittsburgh Penguins), Jakob Pelletier (Calgary Flames) and Nathan Legare (Pittsburgh) in Vancouver. To see them get drafted and being able to hang out with them in Vancouver were really good times.
I now have a better idea of how all it takes place and I'll be ready when that day is mine to experience in Montreal, which is only a few miles from home. It'll be special for sure because all my family and friends will be able to experience it along with me. For now, I'm concentrated on continuing to work and get better every day.
Rimouski is a great organization and expectations are always high. We always want to win and this year is no different. We want to go all the way.
Thanks for reading this month.
Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class