The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced today its final nominees for the 2020 Golden Puck Awards with the unveiling of the finalists for the prestigious Michel-Brière Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s Most Valuable Player. Rimouski Océanic sensation Alexis Lafrenière, Sherbrooke Phœnix overage player Félix Robert and Drummondville Voltigeurs captain Xavier Simoneau are among this year’s nominees.
The award is named after Malartic native Michel Brière, who died at the age of 21 after suffering major head trauma in a car accident. He played his major junior career with the Shawinigan Bruins, scoring 129 goals and adding 191 assists in 100 games. Thereafter, he played one season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, posting 44 points in 76 games. Past recipients of the Michel-Brière Trophy include many NHL stars such as Sean Couturier, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Drouin and Anthony Mantha.
Following an exceptional season, Alexis Lafrenière is already nominated for many other awards. The recipient of last season’s Michel-Brière Trophy posted impressive numbers in 2019-2020, registering a league best 112 points in only 52 games played. Lafrenière also led the league with his 77 assists and 40 power play points. The forward represented the QMJHL at the 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and captained Team Canada to gold at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Félix Robert exploded offensively in his final year of QMJHL eligibility. Going undrafted before being invited by Sherbrooke back in 2016, he posted totals of 23, 46 and 55 points in his first three years with the Phoenix. This season however, he scored 36 goals and finished fourth in the league with 56 assists and 92 points. He also finished tied for first in the league with 16 power play tallies, while his 92 points in 46 games allowed him and Lafrenière to end the campaign as the only players with an average of two points per game or more.
After many key departures in Drummondville, Xavier Simoneau stepped up as the leader of the Voltigeurs franchise. Invited to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rookie camp last summer, the Saint-André-Avellin native had his best offensive season, leading his team and finishing fifth in the QMJHL with 89 points (28 goals and 61 assists). The small gritty forward excelled in all game situations and finished tied for third in the Q with four shorthanded goals. Futhermore, the 18-year-old represented the QMJHL at the CIBC Canada Russia Series.