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NHL Draft

Draft Diary: Raphael Lavoie

Halifax forward has productive week against rival with new linemates

by Raphael Lavoie / Special to

Raphael Lavoie (6-foot-3, 191 pounds) is a right-handed center in his third season with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 18-year-old, who has 54 points (24 goals, 30 assists) and 159 shots on goal in 49 games this season, is No. 13 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American skaters. He is a projected first-round candidate for the 2019 NHL Draft, which will be held June 21-22 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Lavoie will submit a draft diary each month for leading up to the draft.

Hello everyone:

Since the last time I wrote, NHL Central Scouting released its mid-season rankings, ranking me 13th among the top North American prospects. Draft list season has begun!

I'm not going to hide it, we see all of them and we consult them more out of curiosity to see where the guys we know are ranked. The NHL Central Scouting list certainly drew my attention, but at the end of the day, I'm trying to stay focused on my game.

Of course, there is a certain level of competition with the other prospects, but every time we see each other at various events they become a little more like friends. It's a competition, but we respect each other at the same time. They are all good guys and good people.

Jakob Pelletier of the Moncton Wildcats, our biggest rival, is my biggest competition among Quebec prospects. But let me make something clear right away, it's not Jakob I don't like, it's the Wildcats.

The rivalry is great because we play them a lot and the tension goes up a notch every time. There are often fights and scuffles in the games we play against them. It makes the games more interesting, especially when we win.

That's what we did as recently as Saturday, when we won 4-2 in front of their fans. I also scored my 23rd goal of the season, which was my eighth point in three games with my new linemates, Samuel Asselin and Antoine Morand (Anaheim Ducks).

Our coach, Éric Veilleux, put us together in the first game of our three-in-three and we clicked immediately. Samuel had 11 points (six goals, five assists), Antoine had nine (three goals, six assists), and they were named to the QMJHL all-star team for the week.

The key to our success is not rocket science; we work hard, do the right things and that has paid off for us. These are the games in which we allowed the fewest goals while we were on the ice. We defend well and that makes it possible for us to generate scoring chances, especially when we take advantage of them.

Samuel and Antoine are two veterans who won the Memorial Cup last year with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and I can learn from them. Samuel is not the biggest guy, but he wins all his battles because he works so hard. Antoine is good with the puck, he is a good passer with great vision of the game. They are two very good players and I try to follow their example.

We only have 18 games to go before the playoffs start and I have noticed that the level of play has gone up a notch. It's starting to get more physical and faster, and that's fine with me.

With all the fierce competition on the ice, it's always good to get away from the rink from time to time, and that's what we did last week through a partnership between the Halifax police and the Mooseheads. We do lots of activities with them, like going on patrol and community events, but this time we were able to slip into the shoes of an armed policeman.

They showed us how to shoot and use a rifle with plastic bullets and then we were paired in teams of two -- I was with Ostap Safin (Edmonton Oilers) -- for a simulation in which we had to apprehend a shooter hidden in an abandoned school. It was a fun experience and it allowed us to think of something other than hockey for a few hours.

Thanks for reading and be on the lookout for my next blog next month.

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