Canadian hockey player Alexis Lafreniere was selected first overall by the New York Rangers Tuesday night in the first round of NHL’s first ever virtual draft.
This year’s prospects missed out on the chance to join Commissioner Gary Bettman on the stage as one of the league’s 31 teams called out their names but for Lafreniere, the night was still a dream come true.
“Obviously, it’s different, and we didn’t expect that a couple of months ago,” the 18-year-old said. “Growing up, you’re dreaming of being drafted. And for me today, it’s amazing to go first. I’m really honored.”
The Rangers’ pick came as no surprise — Lafreniere was ranked No. 1 among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. The Montreal native was the lead scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games and has registered 30 multipoint games.
Center Quinton Byfield moved up from initial projections as the Los Angeles Kings selected him second overall.
The 6-foot-4 Canadian was ranked second behind Lafreniere as the top North American skater and totaled 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) playing in the OHL last season. Byfield’s selection marks the highest a Black player has ever been drafted in the NHL.
“My dad and mom didn’t play hockey,” Byfield said. “It just shows that there’s a lot of opportunity for everyone in the world.”
German forward Tim Stuetzle was selected next by the Ottawa Senators but got an introduction like no other when “Jeopardy” game-show host Alex Trebek announced Ottawa’s pick.
This year’s draft was as unique as the season changed by the pandemic. Initially scheduled for June 26 and 27 at Montreal’s Bell Centre, the draft was postponed until October. Rounds 2 – 7 will begin Wednesday morning.
Check out the list below to see the rest of the first round picks.
4. DETROIT RED WINGS: LUCAS RAYMOND (LW)
5. OTTAWA SENATORS: JAKE SANDERSON (D)
6. ANAHEIM DUCKS: JAMIE DRYSDALE (D)
7. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: ALEXANDER HOLTZ (RW)
8. BUFFALO SABRES: JACK QUINN (RW)
9. MINNESOTA WILD: MARCO ROSSI (C)
10. WINNIPEG JETS: COLE PERFETTI (C)
11. NASHVILLE PREDATORS: YAROSLAV ASKAROV (G)
12. FLORIDA PANTHERS: ANTON LUNDELL (C)
13. CAROLINA HURRICANES: SETH JARVIS (C)
14. EDMONTON OILERS: DYLAN HOLLOWAY (C)
15. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: RODION AMIROV (LW)
16. MONTREAL CANADIENS: KAIDEN GUHLE (D)
17. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: LUKAS REICHEL (LW)
18. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: DAWSON MERCER (C)
19. NEW YORK RANGERS: BRADEN SCHNEIDER (D)
20. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: SHAKIR MUKHAMADULLIN (D)
21. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: YEGOR CHINAKHOV (RW)
22. WASHINGTON CAPITALS: HENDRIX LAPIERRE (C)
23. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: TYSON FOERSTER (RW)
24. CALGARY FLAMES: CONNOR ZARY (C)
25. COLORADO AVALANCHE: JUSTIN BARRON (D)
26. ST. LOUIS BLUES: JAKE NEIGHBOURS (LW)
27. ANAHEIM DUCKS: JACOB PERREAULT (RW)
28. OTTAWA SENATORS: RIDLY GREIG (C)
29. VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS: BRENDON BRISSON (C)
30. DALLAS STARS: MAVRIK BOURQUE (C)
The Associated Press contributed to this report.