Since getting the #1 overall pick on Monday, both Jeff Gorton and John Davidson have been asked about whether the Rangers would keep the pick and likely select Alexis Lafreniere or potentially trade the pick and move down to select a center.
Davidson said on ESPN Radio that “I would think, when you look at something like this, you make the pick but you can’t sit here today and say this is what we are doing and who we are taking and that is that. You can’t do that, you never know what happens down the road. There is no real rush,” before talking about Lafreniere’s game and leadership skills.
On MSG, Davidson said that the Rangers still have work to do but that he woke up on Tuesday thinking about announcing the #1 overall pick at the draft, before remembering that the draft will be virtual, and added “we will figure this whole thing out, I’m not going to tip the hand now but I can tell you this much, this young man is a future star,” about Lafreniere.
When asked by Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun about Ranger fans talking about moving down for a center, Davidson said “when you sit there and you’re going to get the No. 1 pick it opens up a whole lot of different thoughts and ideas. I think most teams when they get the No. 1 pick, it’s generally a player that’s a very, very good player and so you don’t mess with it at all. But it opens up the avenue to do other things throughout your organization. So it’s something that we always will look at and analyze and try to figure out.”
Davidson, in an interview with ESPN’s On Ice Podcast, said of the #1 overall pick, “so these types of things, somebody would have to blow the socks, the shoes and everything right off your feet if you’re ever going change for something like that. So we’re excited where we are. We have the No. 1 pick. It’s a great time for us. We’ll just see where everything goes.”
He added, “what you try to do in this business is build up assets, and when you have good, real strong depth with your assets, maybe a deal can be made down the road.” (ESPN)
Gorton said right after the draft lottery, “when you go through something like this you try to amass as much talent as you can and obviously if you look through some of the best players in the league, some of the star players in this league, it’s not a huge secret where the teams are getting them. It’s lottery picks and high end parts of the draft. That is generally, it’s not always the truth, but it’s where you get your players and it’s hard. The opportunity is huge, think back to the last few years and you try and do things the right way, try to solidify goaltending, good young defense pieces and now we have been lucky in the last couple of years to do what we’ve done in the lottery. I feel like things are coming together, there is a lot of work left to be done and don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but it’s a good night for Ranger fans to be excited.
Lisa Dillman of The Athletic wonders if the Kings, who select #2, have recently drafted centers, 11 picks this year and a highly rated prospect pool, would try to move up to #1.
Former Leafs GM and Flames President Brian Burke told The Athletic that the Rangers need to listen to offers for the pick, even though, in his experience, most of the offers are “garbage.” (The Athletic)
Adam Rotter: It makes sense for the Rangers to listen if someone calls. There is no penalty for listening and a conversation about the #1 overall pick could lead to a different conversation that may lead to a different kind of move or trade down the line.
Ottawa, because they have #3, #5 and Lafreniere is a French Canadian, is on paper an easy potential trade partner but the Senators may look to use those picks to try and replace a certain center that they drafted, but traded to the Rangers.
Will the Rangers trade out of #1? It’s highly, highly unlikely. Do they need centers in the pipeline? Yes, but they have a variety of other assets including picks, prospects they’ve drafted over the last couple of years and even roster players that could net those players. The Rangers already made a move this year in dealing from a strength, defense prospect Joey Keane, to address a need in young forward Julien Gauthier and they can continue to try and make moves like that. The Rangers will also almost certainly take a center with the Carolina pick and maybe even use some of their assets, like Lias Andersson, to move up with that pick or acquire more picks.
#1 overall means a lot to a franchise on and off the ice and I think one of the big reasons why those picks aren’t moved often is because it’s hard to sell the idea of moving down from taking the best player in the draft. #1 overall doesn’t always turn out to be the best player in a draft but no one will be surprised if Alexis Lafreniere ends up being the best and once you have the opportunity to make the first selection it’s hard to pass up. The Rangers will almost certainly select Lafreniere, use many of their other picks this year on centers and continue to use a potential surplus of defense prospects to fill in other needs.