Raphael Lavoie's mind began to race after he was selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the second round (No. 38) of the 2019 NHL Draft. First, the 18-year-old forward prospect was thrilled about being chosen by the Oilers. Then his thoughts focused on playing with center Connor McDavid.
"Yeah, I was like, 'Wow, I'm going to Edmonton'," Lavoie said Wednesday. "It was really exciting to be selected by the Oilers. It's a great feeling, especially when you have your family there with you; it's truly amazing."
Lavoie had 73 points (32 goals, 41 assists) in 62 games last season, his third with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and 32 points (20 goals, 12 assists) in 23 playoff games for Halifax, which lost to Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL championship. Halifax also lost to Rouyn-Noranda in the Memorial Cup Final.
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Lavoie (6-foot-4, 196 pounds) said he still has a lot of work ahead to fulfill his dream of skating beside McDavid and the rest of the Oilers.
"I have to get stronger physically," Lavoie said. "I'm a pretty tall guy and I have to get stronger and put some weight on, especially if I want to play in a men's league like that. I have to get faster too, and I have to get more explosive, especially if I ever step on the ice with Connor, I have to be a bit faster."
Lavoie, who likely will play a fourth junior season with Halifax, will also look to hone his leadership skills, which will be helpful in his quest to play in the NHL.
"It was a pretty good year, we had a really good team," Lavoie said. "It was pretty disappointing losing in the final twice, but overall it was a great year. We had one of the top teams in the league and going into the playoffs we were expected to have a good run. We played pretty well even though we didn't finish the way we wanted."
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The Oilers liked what they saw of Lavoie last season and invited him and 20 others to development camp in June; he also will attend rookie camp this fall.
"He had a great playoff," Oilers director of player personnel Bob Green said at the NHL Draft. "He had a good Memorial Cup. I saw him out there. During the course of the year, I liked his game. He's a big, strong kid that can score. He makes plays with the puck, he's strong down low and he complements good players."
The ability to generate offense has always been a big part of Lavoie's game; he followed a strong performance during the QMJHL playoffs with three points (two goals, one assist) in four games at the Memorial Cup.
"There was some pressure on me last year and there was pressure on our team with us hosting the Memorial Cup," Lavoie said. "But that's part of being a hockey player and you have to be able to deal with that pressure."