The New York Rangers won the NHL Draft lottery for the first time ever, and they used the No. 1 pick on Canadian forward Alexis Lafreniere.
The whole world knew this pick was coming. Lafreniere was by far the consensus number one pick in the 2020 draft, and arguably the best prospect the NHL has seen since Auston Matthews went in 2016.
The Rangers add Lafreniere to their league-best farm system. Just adding to the incredibly bright future that exists on Broadway.
Who is Alexis Lafreniere?
Alexis Lafreniere is a big powerful left-winger. At 6-foot-1 192 pounds, Lafreniere loved to use his big frame to overpower the kids in QMJHL. He isn’t the typical power forward goal-scorer, it the mold of a Chris Kreider. On the contrary, he’s more of a playmaker.
Over the last two years, Lafreniere has 68 and 77 assists at the QMJHL level. That doesn’t mean Lafreniere is unable to shoot, he has an above-average shot that has led to over 30 goals at nearly every level he’s played. The last time he scored less than 30 goals in a season, he was just 13 years old.
Lafreniere is also only the second player in QMJHL history to win back-to-back MVP awards, the other was Sidney Crosby. An interesting coincidence considering Crosby was also drafted after a shortened season that changed the lottery odds. Even more interesting, the Rangers had the worst record in the NHL leading up to the 2005 draft, but had their odds shifted due to the strange lockout-shortened season.
That’s where the comparison with Crosby end. Lafreniere isn’t going to play center, and likely won’t be a generational talent. However, Lafreniere is going to be a huge addition to a Rangers team that’s already stacked at winger.
Fit on the New York Rangers
Lafreniere is coming onto a Rangers team that’s more stacked at left-wing then any other team in the NHL. Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin leads the top line, while Chris Kreider has a hold on the second line spot. That puts the Rangers in a bind. Do they move Lafreniere over to RW to get him more playing time or do they leave him on the third line?
Even if they move him over to the right-wing the Rangers already have Pavel Buchnevich and last year’s number two overall pick Kaapo Kakko. Not to mention the Rangers plethora of wing prospects, like Vitali Kravtsov who is tearing up the KHL.
The most likely scenario might be transitioning Lafreniere to right-wing and trading Pavel Buchnevich in a deal to either acquire a center or move up from 22 later tonight.
The Rangers have to find a way to clear cap space and make room for Lafreniere at the same time. Dealing Buchnevich makes the most sense considering the Rangers are adding an elite winger prospect.