It’s official, Alexis Lafreniere is a New York Ranger. Jeff Gorton made the official announcement just a couple minutes ago. After the Rangers won phase 2 of the lottery in August, Lafreniere has been the presumed #1 pick the entire time. The Rangers have an abundance of wingers, but Lafreniere could be the second best on the team (behind Panarin). So, who is Alexis Lafreniere and what makes him so special.
Lafreniere was born on October 11, 2001. Lafreniere played his junior hockey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He was selected first overall by Rimouski Oceanic (the same team that Sidney Crosby played for) in 2017. He won the QMJHL’s rookie of the year award in his first season. Also, Lafreniere has an impressive international resume. He has represented Canada in the 2018 U18 World Championships, the 2019 World Juniors and the 2020 World Juniors.
Lafreniere has put up insane stats everywhere he has played. As a 16 year old, Lafreniere put up 80 points in his rookie season in the QMJHL. The following year, he put up 105 points, and then most recently, 112 points.
Lafreniere has been the projected first pick for this draft class for years. This class is loaded with top talent and Lafreniere stands above the rest. For example, many scouts consider him to be a franchise cornerstone player. He has the potential to truly carry a team, and when you combine him with Artemi Panarin, the Rangers will be very dangerous. Lafreniere is not the biggest guy in the world, but he brings truly elite offensive talent. Corey Pronman from The Athletic had this to say:
“He has truly elite skill and some of the best hands I’ve ever seen. Lafreniere has made some of the most creative plays I’ve seen in the past few years, and with his skill he’s always a second away from a scoring chance. He beats defenders in unique ways and catches them off guard with the moves he makes. He’s also a very good passer who makes quick, crisp passes, and his elite creativity translates to his playmaking. He has a great shot, too, with the ability to score from mid-distance. On the power play he’s a menace due to how he can beat defenders 1-on-1, find seams or pick corners. Lafreniere is a highly competitive player who plays well in the hard areas of the ice, is solid defensively and plays physical.”
Pronman is considered one of the top prospect guys in the game, so this is definitely high praise.
Where does he fit in?
Like I mentioned before, the Rangers have an abundance of wingers, and that does not even include Vitali Kravstov yet. Lafreniere will most likely start on the third line. Head coach David Quinn likes his rookies to earn their spot. He does not totally care about draft pedigree when deciding his lines. Lafreniere will certainly earn his way into the top six and either play across from Panarin or Kreider. Look for him also to have a lot of power play time as well. With his elite playmaking ability, he will fit in perfectly with Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin on the power play.
The Rangers have gone through quite the rebuild. However, games are not won on paper and the Rangers still have a lot of questions to answer. Lafreniere solidifies their offense, but they still need to acquire a left handed defenseman, especially since they traded Marc Staal. The league is targeting a January 1 start and Lafreniere will be suiting up with the Rangers on opening night.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)
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