8:18PM: On MSG, John Davidson spoke about Alexis Lafreniere and said:
- “We are 10 out of 10 with excitement, to be dead honest with you.”
- “These things happen maybe once in a lifetime, to have one of those picks, it’s almost dramatic, it’s exciting. We’ve had our eyes on Alexis the whole time. The wonderful part was when he put the jersey on it, it looked like it fit him perfect. He’s a very mature man for his age, a no-maintenance guy. He’s a pro already in a lot of ways. He’s waiting to have talks with us about what he is going to do this winter. For the franchise, for everyone that works so hard and the fans, its’ a tremendously exciting time.”
- Does he remind you of anyone, “He himself thinks about Rantanen. We are talking about someone who does everything really well, 200-ft player, not full of flash and dash, really knows the way to get things done the right way, strong lower body, very high IQ, very driven and when you have skill and power at the same time, it’s a pretty good package. Just the way he carries himself, it’s the complete package. We are going to do things the right way, develop him work on all aspects of what you have to do to be a.great pro. Our group is really excited about having the opportunity to work with him and he is very excited about being a Ranger. We never said anything or announced anything, his agent was a little nervous as to whether he was going to be a Ranger or not, but she’s not nervous anymore.”
- What have you learned about him, “You knew how good he was as a player because of his international play, in particular. All the research we’ve done, I haven’t heard one negative thing about him. I think we will see a young man come here, he will know how to handle himself, play the right way. He may not step on the ice and be a superstar out of the chute, but he’s going to be a terrific player, these things take time, but he’s a part of our package that we are growing with and for Ranger fans, when we get back to normalcy and see this young man play and then get better, and better, and then become great, that is what is so special about this young player and for our fans to be part of.”
7:20PM: With the #1 overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, the New York Rangers have selected LW Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.
Lafreniere was the consensus #1 overall selection according to scouts and media.
About Lafreniere (NHL Central Scouting):
- Earned MVP and Best Forward at the 2020 World Junior Championship, where he helped Team Canada win gold
- Named CHL and QMJHL Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season in 2019-20, making him the first back-to-back winner of each award since Sidney Crosby (2003-04 to 2004-05).
Central Scouting’s report on him says, “Exceptionally smart player with top-end speed and pull-away gear. Great at carrying the puck and leading rushes. Executes under pressure and has great vision and anticipation – very good quickness with the puck and exceptional ability to change speed. Elite puck skills and vision” and compares him to Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau.
Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet says of the Rangers choosing Lafreniere, “this is an absolute no-brainer. What I like most about this player is that he plays an all-around game. Despite being a winger, where many people think that the center position that can only impact those around him, Alexis Lafreniere can do that from the wing. He’s got great creativity, he shoots the puck a ton with a great release, defensive responsibility build into his game and here is a guy that when he gets across the blue line, is extremely dangerous because he has such a high hockey IQ and is so creative.”
McKeen‘s Draft Preview says that Lafreniere is the best QMJHL prospect since Nathan MacKinnon of Colorado, “and maybe even since Sidney Crosby.”
McKeen‘s adds, “If there is a theme in Lafrenière’s game, it is that he boasts a complete toolbox on the rush and in the offensive zone but uses only what is necessary for the moment. Lafrenière is playing 4D chess; he can assess the situation, determine the best plan of attack and execute before the opponent recognizes the situation. His ability to recognize when to release the puck and the poise to keep the puck until just the right moment is outstanding, and his ability to run an offence is top notch” and “The bottom line is that the sky is the limit, and Lafrenière’s greatest asset is that he knows what he is and what he can do.”
Craig Button said on TSN Toronto “Alexis has been the best player in his age-group all the way through, from the time he was 15 he dominated. Only Crosby has won back-to-back CHL Player of the Year awards so he’s already in rarefied air. He was a First Team All-Star as a 16-year old, he dominated at every level and every tournament he’s ever been at and I don’t think he will be any less of a star at the NHL level. He’s a star and a player that can play in a manner required in the moment. Want to play physical, he’ll play physical, want to play edgy, he’ll play edgy, you want skill, he can do that, want to skate, he can do that, battle in front of the net for loose pucks, he can do that. He makes everyone around him better, to me he’s the rare winger, centers are usually the guys that really drive the play and I think for Alexis, he’s the rare winger that can make all the players around him better. Patrick Kane-type players, Mitch Marner, Pastranak, Panarin, they have an ability to make everyone around them so much better. It’s a quality that is rare.”
On NBCSN, Button said “he’s physically, mentally and emotionally mature, so you take all of that and then the enormous skill that he has, all with that great competitive spirit. Alexis Lafreniere is not interested in playing anywhere other than where it matters, thats inside the dots and to the net. Outstanding hockey sense and an ability to deliver when it matters most.”
- Skating: 4.5/5
- Hockey Sense: 5/5
- Competitiveness: 5/5
- Scoring Touch: 5/5
- Shot: 4.5/5
Pierre McGuire said, “this is a prototypical power forward, a little like Mikko Rantanen, a little like Jarome Iginla. He can bring smash mouth hockey to Broadway, the Ranger fans will love him. The biggest thing is that he dominated in key events, the World Juniors this year he was letter perfect.
Sidney Crosby, who saw Lafreniere play last season said, “It was really cool seeing him play and seeing how he dominated the game, the way he sees the ice. You could see all the guys around him were better, just being around him. That was really cool.” (The Athletic)
Former Rangers coach Tom Renney, who has seen Lafreniere as part of his work with Hockey Canada, told Larry Brooks that Lafreniere is “humble, deflects praise” and a “winner.” (NY Post)
Renney adds that Lafreniere has “zero issues being in the limelight” and that the combination of his “hockey ability” and “personality” makes him “almost made for New York. It’s a really good fit.” (NY Post)
Adam Rotter: It’s finally official and the Rangers add the best player in this draft and someone who brings everything that the Rangers need. Terrific skill, playmaking and hockey IQ but his work ethic and compete level is that of someone who usually plays much lower in the lineup. When you combine the high-end skill and the bottom-six work ethic and compete level, you get someone who is special. He likes to play like Mikko Rantanen, someone that Kaapo Kakko was often compared to, and everyone says that even though he is a winger, he drives the play forward like a center. The Rangers are already quite familiar with a LW that pushes the play forward makes everyone around him better, like a center, and Alexis Lafreniere will get to watch Artemi Panarin up close every day and learn from the best. He won’t be wearing #11 as a Ranger, but like the two #11’s in the rafters of MSG, he could very well have a “C” on his jersey down the line. The Rangers will address their need at center in time, but for now they add another massive piece up front that, along with Kakko, should lead the Rangers up front for a long, long time.