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Lose for Lafrenière? Part 1

In a shocking turn of events, the 1st round pick in the 2020 NHL draft will go to one of the 8 NHL teams eliminated from the Stanley Cup Qualifier rounds. There will be a second drawing for the 1st pick in the draft after the qualifiers. Each team that loses in the qualifiers would have a 12.5% chance of getting the 1st overall pick in the draft. This pick will most definitely be Alexis Lafrenière. While I think the idea of players tanking is ridiculous (no one wants to lose), the potential consolation prize might be better than an early playoff exit. I will review which teams would be better off losing for a shot at Lafreniere. This will be a 2 part series to review all 16 teams in the qualifiers.

Who is Lafrenière?

Let’s do a quick review of the player who will most definitely be picked 1st overall. Lafrenière is an 18-year-old left-winger from Saint-Eustache, Quebec. He has been playing for Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Lafrenière won the Rookie of the Year in 2017-18 with 80 points and has kept improving throughout the years. He had 105 points the following season and 112 points this season. He led Canada’s junior team to gold in the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and had 11 points in the 5 games.

Is Defeat in the Qualifiers Better?

Accepted 24- Team Playoff

Arizona Coyotes

Lose for Lafrenière? Yes

The Coyotes definitely could use the help offensively averaging 2.7 goals per game (23rd in the league). Let’s be honest the Yotes are not looking likely to win the Cup this year. They were 4 points off the last wildcard in the West when the season was suspended and are definitely lucky to even have a shot at the Cup still. I wouldn’t be too sad if I was a Coyote fan to lose to the Preds.

Yotes might not win the Cup but they will look good trying. Coyotes will bring back the Kachina jerseys for the qualifiers.

Calgary Flames

Lose for Lafrenière? Yes

When you compare this season to the 2018-19 season you would have to say it was a letdown for the Flames. They were tied for the second-most points in the league last season and had the most in the West at 107. This year was a different story. The Flames were barely holding on to a playoff spot at 79 points when the season was suspended. Left winger Johnny Gaudreau was probably the most disappointing going from 99 points to 58 this year. Adding Lafrenière could give Gaudreau some competition for his spot on the 1st line. I do not see the Flames going far in the playoffs so if they lose and get a shot a Lafrenière it might not be the worst thing.

Carolina Hurricanes

Lose for Lafrenière? No

Dougie Hamilton is back! Not to mention both James Reimer and Petr Mzarek are returning as well. I like the Hurricanes chances although it will not be easy for them to get past the Rangers in the qualifiers. The Hurricanes showed last year that they are a very good playoff team. They made a very good run last year and I do not think it was a fluke. They are a very deep team that just brought in Vincent Trocheck who can be a game-changer. If I was a Canes fan, I would be very disappointed if they lose to the Rangers in the qualifiers.

Chicago Blackhawks

Lose for Lafrenière? Yes

The Blackhawks are very lucky to still have a shot at the Cup. They were 6 points out of the last wildcard spot and would have had to pass 4 teams to get in. The Blackhawks will need to rebuild if they are hoping to bring the Cup back to Chicago again any time soon.

However, they have so much playoff experience in the likes of Keith, Kane, Toews, and Crawford and I’ve seen stranger things. The Blackhawks also have some very good young talent in Alex DeBrincat, Dominik Kubalik, and Kirby Dach. Adding Lafrenière could be a huge boost in their rebuilding efforts. That being said if I was a Hawks fan seeing Toews, Kane, Keith, and Crawford have another shot at the Cup is hard not to get excited about. At the end of the day, I just don’t see them making a deep playoff run.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Lose for Lafrenière? No

CBJ was probably the happiest to have the season suspended. They were plagued the whole season with injuries, but players like Seth Jones, Cam Atkinson, and Oliver Bjorkstrand will be healthy again. CBJ had one of the best goalie tandems this season in Korpisalo and Merzlikins. If I was a Blue Jacket fan I’d be very excited about the return of hockey. They will have a tough test right off the gate in Toronto, but if either Korp or Elvis get hot CBJ could be very dangerous. CBJ are definitely not in the lose for Lafrenière camp.

Edmonton Oilers

Lose for Lafrenière? No

The most improved team for me this year. General Manager, Ken Holland, has stated publicly that he wants a deep playoff run, not the first overall pick. I agree with him 100%. The Oilers are filled with talent from the big two of Connor McDavid and the Art Ross trophy winner Leon Draisaitl to Oscar Klefbom, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Kailer Yamamoto. They are a deep team if they get good goalkeeping they could definitely make a deep playoff run.

Florida Panthers

Lose for Lafrenière? Yes

Panther fans had high hopes for this season after signing goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. However, Bob and the Panthers were very disappointing. The Panthers were 28th in the NHL in goals against average and were very lucky to find themselves in the playoff picture. They face the low scoring Islanders so I believe they have a shot, but I can’t see them getting any further than the qualifiers. A shot at Lafrenière would be the best option for the Panthers in my opinion.

Minnesota Wild

Lose for Lafrenière? Yes

The Wild were having another mediocre season but might actually feel upset by the timing of the suspension of the season. They were one of the hottest teams in hockey winning 7 of their last 10 games. Kevin Fiala was there most impressive player for me having a breakout season. I am looking forward to seeing him play again in the qualifiers. However, I definitely do not see them going very far. I would not be too disappointed to lose and have a shot at Lafreniere if I was a Minnesota fan. They have a lot of good prospects in their system and adding Lafrenière could make them a Cup contender in a few years.

To Be Continued…

Part 2 discussing the other 8 teams who have a shot at Lafrenière (Canadiens, Predators, Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Maple Leafs, Canucks, and Jets) is coming soon.

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