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. Lavoie, 18, who has 43 points (19 goals, 24 assists) and 136 shots on goal in 37 games this season, is an A-rated skater in NHL Central Scouting's December Players to Watch list. 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 NHL.com leading up to the draft.
The last time I wrote, I had just received my invitation to Hockey Canada Junior Team Selection Camp. I took part but unfortunately did not make the team. That changed my holiday plans, but I still made the most of the time off.
I did a bit of skiing and spent some time at the outdoor rink, but most of all I got some rest. There was nothing too intense during the holidays. It was good to see my old friends and spend time with my family.
The camp was still a very good experience. I worked with guys who ultimately made the team and played in the tournament. They are incredible guys, good people and great hockey players. I have a lot to learn from them.
It's never pleasant to be told that you are not good enough to make a team, but I didn't play much in the second pretournament game, so I was expecting it a little when it happened. I can't say I was happy, but I'm going to look ahead to next year's tournament when I'll have another chance to make the team. This is now one of my goals, and I hope to help the team go further than this year.
Despite my personal disappointment, I watched the tournament and encouraged the Canadian team, which was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Prior to the tournament, I thought the final was going to be between Canada and Finland. That matchup ultimately happened earlier than I expected. The Finns were lucky on their first goal, but these are things that happen. Canada played very well, but they were just a little unlucky.
Finland won gold, so they were hardly a weak opponent!
In Halifax, we are on a good run (7-1-2) and we made some acquisitions to improve our team during the trading period. Keith Getson, Maxime Trepanier and Alexis Sansfacon are all very good players who will help us win by the end of the season.
They are adapting well. Most of the guys know them because they either played for or against them when they were younger. We even faced Getson (for Charlottetown) in the playoffs last year. Now he'll be on the right side!
Our general manager, Cam Russell, chose not to make any big trades and kept much of the same group together. It's always good to keep the same core of players to not upset good chemistry, and we already had a very competitive club.
Our rivals also improved. I think of Rouyn-Noranda, which got Noah Dobson (New York Islanders) and Joel Teasdale (Montreal Canadiens), and Drummondville adding Pierre-Olivier Joseph (Arizona Coyotes). It won't be easy, but I'm convinced that we can beat anyone in the league.
I also took advantage of the holidays to get involved in my first fight of the season, against Cape Breton's Declan Smith. He delivered a solid check on my teammate, Samuel Asselin, behind the net, and even though I don't consider myself a brawler, I couldn't let that go.
Smith fights more often than I do, but it worked out OK. We have to protect our guys on the ice and it was up to me to stand up for my teammate in that situation.
One game in which I'm not going to drop the gloves is the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Red Deer, Alberta, on Jan. 23. The guys who took part last year told me it was a great experience to meet all the other NHL Draft prospects.
Thank you for taking the time to read this month. We'll talk again in February.