While fans in Cape Breton already know his name, Mathias Laferrière hopes that getting drafted by St. Louis is just the beginning. The 6’1 forward was selected by the Blues with the 169th draft pick in the sixth round of the NHL draft this June. Since then, it’s been full speed ahead for the 2018-19 season and the rest of his hockey career for the Screaming Eagles centre.
“The first few days (after getting drafted) I was really excited, but then you realise that there is a lot of stuff to be done,” says Laferrière. The now Blues prospect notes that the St. Louis organization hadn’t talked to him until three days prior to the draft, but after that he “would get nervous every time St. Louis had a pick.”
Like most NHL draft choices, getting chosen into big league wasn’t the first time Laferrière had his name called at an entry draft. Before his trade to Cape Breton, the Montréal native was picked by Blainville-Boisbriand in the first round at 7th overall in 2016. During his QMJHL draft year in midget, “Laffy” captured the MVP award at the Telus Cup (the national midget championship) playing against players two years his senior. In his first full season in the QMJHL in 2017-18, Cape Breton’s #81 collected 41 points through 67 games.
“We like his skills and intelligence,” says St. Louis Blues amateur scout Michel Picard. He notes that Laferrière needs to mature and become more consistent, like most junior players. Picard says that Laferrière impressed at the July Blues developmental camp, performing “better than expected.”
Someone else impressed is Screaming Eagles’ director of strength and conditioning Sébastien Lagrange. This summer Laferrière is training with Lagrange at the Axxeleration Performance Centre in Châteauguay, along with other QMJHL players including Screaming Eagle teammate Olivier Bourret. “Mathias has pushed himself so hard, and his work ethic is outstanding,” states Lagrange. “He has been training four times a week (six training sessions) since May, and has added ten pounds of muscle.”
Lagrange feels Laferrière is a standout among the players he’s worked with this summer, observing that the 2000-born Cape Breton forward has developed a new passion for training. The dedication starts with the daily commute, and going the extra mile to get the best training available. “Rather than go to the gym close to home, Mathias travels across the city in a drive that could be 35 to 90 minutes depending on traffic.”
“Training there has really showed me how to behave as a athlete,” says Laferrière. The former Lac St-Louis midget standout has used his summer regiment as a way to build off the “huge boost in confidence” from being drafted in the NHL, and feels similarly confident in the Cape Breton team he plays for in regards to the upcoming campaign.
“I strongly feel that we are capable of great things this year,” begins Laferrière. “I am confident in my teammates, the coaches and myself. I think our fans should be excited and feel positive about our future.”