Categories
2020 Draft

What to expect from the Rangers with Free Agency Opening

1:01PM: The Rangers have re-signed Brandon Crawley.

11:48AM: Officially the Rangers UFAs are: Matt Beleskey, J-F Berube, Jesper Fast, Steven Fogarty, Micheal Haley, Nicklas Jensen, Greg McKegg, Nick Ebert, Vinni Lettieri, Boo Nieves, Danny O’Regan, Ryan Gropp, Dawson Leedahl.

Officially, the Rangers RFAs are: “Brandon Crawley, Tony DeAngelo, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Gabriel Fontaine, Alexandar Georgiev, Brendan Lemieux, Darren Raddysh, Ryan Strome.”

8:43AM: Free Agency begins at 12PM today and the following Rangers are slated to become Unrestricted Free Agents:

  • Jesper Fast, Greg McKegg, Micheal Haley
  • Minor leaguers: Matt Beleskey, Steven Fogarty, Boo Nieves, Vinni Lettieri, Danny O’Regan, Ryan Gropp, Dawson Leedahl

The Rangers have just over $23 million in cap space, according to Cap Friendly, but due to them being over the  performance bonus limit* the number is likely closer to somewhere between $17 million and $20 million depending on roster construction. (NY Post, Frank Seravalli)

When asked after the draft about Jesper Fast’s status, Jeff Gorton said “that is probably a better question for Kurt Overhardt and Jesper at this point, they probably know better whether he is going to market. At this point, we are so close, it’s hard to think that it’s probably not going to at least see what is out there and we will see what happens with the Rangers after that.” (NYR)

It was reported last weekend that the Rangers and Fast have not had any contract talks.

When asked about being active when Free Agency opens, Gorton said “certainly we will be looking to see what will happen. We have some players that we’ve identified could help us. We will talk to those people at the right time and go from there, I don’t know one way or the other. I don’t think it will be like last year, that is for sure. We’ll see.”

Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, Brendan Lemieux, Alex Georgiev and Phil Di Giuseppe are all RFAs with arbitration rights.


Henrik Lundqvist is expected to sign with the Capitals.


*Performance bonuses for a team can not exceed 7.5% of the salary cap ($6,112,500). The Rangers, right now, according to Cap Friendly have $7,212,500 in potential performance bonuses. This does not include the likely $2.85 million in potential bonuses for Alexis Lafreniere, $850,000 for Morgan Barron, $500,000 for Vitali Kravtsov or $300,000 for K’Andre Miller.

Adam Rotter: Unlike last year’s free agency opening, which landed Artemi Panarin, the expectation is that the Rangers will be nibbling around the edges, looking for depth players and won’t be involved with any of the big fish like Taylor Hall, Alex Pietrangelo or Torey Krug. The Rangers have a need on the left side of their defense but Jeff Gorton said that the coaching staff has been discussing moving Tony DeAngelo or Adam Fox to the left side. Still, the expectation is that the Rangers will add a veteran left shot defenseman, if not two of them. Center remains more of a long-term issue, especially if Ryan Strome ends up staying, but it’s an area the Rangers are still expected to pursue. With the goal of being both physically tougher and tougher to play against, there has been talk for a while linking the Islanders Matt Martin to the Rangers, but Larry Brooks says that the Rangers aren’t expected “to be in the hunt.”  Unlike most years when things tend to quiet down after the first couple of days in July, many around the league believe that with so many teams trying to move money that things will stay active for a while, if not until right before training camps begin.

Jesper Fast likely won’t return and, if they can clear the space, could join Henrik Lundqvist in Washington. Fast is going to draw a lot of interest from around the league. Michael Grabner was bought out by Arizona and his return would soften losing Fast, a little, especially on the PK.

The performance bonus thing is a real issue for the Rangers and will limit what they can do outside of signing their RFAs. If the Rangers have every player with potential performances on their roster on opening night then they will need to have  $5.6 million to cover that. Essentially all of the money the Rangers saved by moving Marc Staal to Detroit would go toward covering the bonus money to make sure the Rangers stay under the cap. It’s why there is still a question of whether Ryan Strome will be with the Rangers and there has been so much talk about what he could get in arbitration. Strome, and Tony DeAngelo, could still be moved, some around the league think that Pavel Buchnevich is drawing interest and could be moved. It’s going to be a very interesting offseason not just for the Rangers but the whole league.

Categories
2020 Draft

The rest of the Rangers picks on Day 2

On the draft, Jeff Gorton said (NYR):

  • “I think, as we move forward, we addressed a lot of needs, some emphasis on size, we took a lot of Canadians, which, lately, it’s worked out that we have a lot of Europeans, it’s one of those years where it worked out with some players from North America.”
  • “We definitely want to be harder to play against and identified some players that had that and some grit, size but some skill. A lot of those bigger players, we feel like there is some upside too, some skill. That is definitely a need we identified and think we’ve addressed.”
  • “Any time we are moving up, the list has a big part to do with that, we are going after players that we think have slipped in the draft and we are going to go after then, we like them a little higher than what the spot was. It happened a lot, a couple of times we moved up to get people we thought were falling. Usually when you have a list and a draft, each team is going to sit here like I am and say that we got all of our guys in the top-50. Everyone’s list is different, it’s unique to each team but we are confident that we’ve identified players. We had a list that we went off of and felt comfortable moving in and out of spots to get the players we needed.”

With the 92nd pick, the Rangers chose Swedish center Oliver Tarnstrom.

He is 6-0, 165lbs.

Last season in Swedish juniors he scored 11 goals and 23 assists in 41 games.

He is the son of former NHL defenseman Dick Tarnstrom.

From the Rangers: “Tarnstrom, 18, skated in 41 games with AIK’s J20 team in SuperElit this past season, registering 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points, along with a plus-eight rating and eight penalty minutes. Among all draft eligible players in SuperElit in 2019-20, he tied for sixth in assists and tied for seventh in points during the season. Tarnstrom led AIK’s J20 team in assists, ranked second in points, and ranked third in goals during the past season. He also skated in eight games with AIK in Allsvenskan in 2019-20, and he ranked fifth among draft eligible players in games played in Allsvenskan during the season.”

“The 6-1, 169-pounder has also skated in two games with AIK in Allsvenskan and two games with AIK’s J20 team in J20 Nationell to begin the 2020-21 season. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Tarnstrom skated in three games with Sweden’s U18 team during the 2020 Five Nations Tournament. Tarnstrom’s father, Dick Tarnstrom, played parts of five seasons in the NHL.”


With the 103rd pick, the Rangers chose goalie Dylan Garand.

He was the sixth ranked goalie on Central Scouting’s North American goalie list.

Last season he was 28-10-2 in 42 games with a 2.21 GAA and .921 save percentage.

Sam Cosentino said on The NHL Network, “his story starts two-years ago as the Kamloops Blazers needed wins and plenty of them down the stretch, they got points in each of their last seven games and that got them into a one-game playoff with the Kelowna Rockets. It was Garand carrying the load there because their number one goalie got hurt, so as a 16-year old he’s thrown into the situation, they win the one-game playoff 5-1 before bowing out in the next round, but a huge accomplishment and he went into the offseason with the confidence like ‘hey guys, I can do this, I’m worthy of being the number one goalie.” He plays last season, 28-wins for Kamloops, a really good team, .921 save percentage before the pause shut things down. This guy loves hockey, he goes back to Victoria in the offseason, he wants a way to get better. Can’t really do a whole lot on the ice, so what does he do, gets a job at Costco and says he wants to buy one of those high-end bikes and that is how he is working out this offseason, he’s got his eye on the prize. A little on the smaller side for today’s standard of goaltenders, 6-1, 185 but a lot of drive and motivation with this young man.”

In the one-game playoff Cosentino mentions, Garand stopped 27 of 28 shots in the win.

From the Rangers: “Internationally, the Victoria, British Columbia native has represented Canada in several tournaments. Garand helped Canada earn a silver medal at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, as he posted a 1.51 GAA in two appearances and earned one shutout. He also posted a 2-1-0 record, along with a 2.33 GAA and a .930 SV% in four appearances with Canada-Red at the 2018 World U17 Hockey Challenge.”


The Rangers acquired pick 127 from San Jose for picks 196 and 206.

At 127, the Rangers chose center Evan Vierling. He is 6-0, 167 and plays for the Barrie Colts in the OHL.

The Hockey News wrote, “trade from Flint energized him, led to a big second half. Needs to work on his shot.

He had 12 goals and 22 assists in 28 games for Barrie after the trade.

Adnan Virk said on the NHL Network that some people call Vierling a “poor mans Ryan-Nugent Hopkins”

McKeen’s listed him as a “Sleeper,” and wrote that he is a “well-rounded offensive pivot who controls the middle of the ice well. He competes hard along the wall for pucks and despite not possessing elite size or quickness, manages to prolong plays and create from nothing.”

He is a former second overall selection in the OHL Priority Draft.


At 134, the Rangers chose LW Brett Berard of the US National Program.

He is 5-9, 155 and Central Scouting says that he models his game after Brad Marchand.

The Hockey News lists his “best case” as Jesper Bratt and write “On one hand, Berard plays the game with no fear, and he goes to the net with reckless abandon. Scouts love that about him. On the other hand, he’s really small, and absorbing all that contact can wear down the players of his size. ‘He’s really competitive, probably too competitive for his own good, especially considering his body,’ said one scout. ‘I love the way he plays. He’s a guy who wants to win and wants to make a difference. He’s got a chance to be one of those fourth-line energy guys who actually makes a difference. If he doesn’t get killed first.”

He will play at Providence College and is one of the youngest players in the draft. (The Hockey News)

McKeen’s writes “However small he is, pound-for-pound he has as much skill and hockey sense as anyone. He is an exceptional stickhandler, patient with the puck and remarkably difficult to separate from the puck. His hand are soft and quick. He is active across all three zones and a high-end play driver….He loves to drive the net, and doesn’t rely on straight-line speed to do so, but cuts and changes his angle of approach to keep the defense and the goalie guessing.”


At 165, the Rangers picked center Matt Rempe.

Rempe is 6-7, 207 and plays for Seattle in the WHL.

Rempe told the Seattle Times that he now weighs 235 after adding 30 pounds due to weight training.

He had 12 goals and 19 assists in 47 games.

He is not ranked by any of the scouting services, including Central Scouting.

Rempe told the Seattle Times, “all the teams like my height because I can also skate very well and that he has gotten stronger and faster.

From the Rangers: “Rempe, 18, skated in 47 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL) this past season, registering 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points, along with 53 penalty minutes. He ranked 13th among WHL rookies in points and ranked seventh among WHL rookies in penalty minutes in 2019-20. Rempe also ranked sixth on Seattle (second among team rookies) in points this past season, and he ranked third on the team in power play goals (five) in 2019-20. Rempe also led the team in faceoffs taken (653) and ranked second on the team in faceoff wins (301) this past season.”


At 197, the Rangers picked goalie Hugo Ollas.

He is 6-7, 220 lbs.

From the Rangers: “Ollas, 18, appeared in 20 games with Linkoping’s junior (J20) team in SuperElit this past season, posting a 2.43 GAA. The 6-8, 238-pounder has also appeared in seven games with Linkoping’s junior team thus far in 2020-21, posting a 2.40 GAA. A native of Linkoping, Sweden, Ollas was named the Best Goaltender U18 goaltender in Sweden’s J18 league in 2018-19.”

Categories
2020 Draft William Cuylle

Rangers select William Cuylle 60th overall

The Rangers have selected LW William Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires at #60.

They acquired the pick in exchange for Lias Andersson.

Cuylle is 6-3, 204.

On his game, Cullye said on the NHL Network “I hope to bring my size and strength and play a rough and tough physical game in NY. That is one of my big strengths and I think that is what is going to make me successful at the next level, playing physical and really taking it to every opponent that I can.”

Central Scouting compares him to Alex Killorn and says, “Powerful skater with good speed. Scoring threat with a heavy shot and quick release. Heavy on the body and on pursuit of pucks. Very strong puck protection and wall play. Excellent net front presence.”

On the NHL Network, Sam Costentino said “this guy is a big rig, no question about it. He comes into the league as a 16-year old and puts up 26 goals and figured, ‘hey, I might be able to do that again with Trevor Letowski’s team.’ Well, he struggled off the start, a little bit of puck luck but really struggled to find the scoresheet and he’s trying to identify what he would be, how you can still impact the game without doing what you do best and that is scoring goals. He went through this trial period of ‘what can I do to be better.” The one that where he needs to find consistency is in that physical game. When he plays mad and looking for the big hit, not pulling himself out of position to do it, but when he plays with a physical edge, a lot of times the offense seems to follow that. If you are just trying to be a goal scorer and you are Will Cuylle, that is not likely to be the thing. It does come naturally to him but not at that high level, so let’s get going with the physical, be a north/south guy, use that speed and physicality, show everyone you are a beast out there, that will buy us some space. When he gets the puck, he can really shoot it, he can play that physical, power forward game. He needs to find consistency.”

The Hockey News wrote that his “best case” was San Jose’s Evander Kane. A scout said to The Hockey News, “I had high expectations for him this season, and he hasn’t really met them. Having said that, he might be a bit of a throwback in the way he plays. The fight at the Top Prospects opened some eyes, and he was physical, so I could see guys pushing him towards a power forward role. Coming into the season, I saw him as a scoreer. Is it still there?”

McKeen’s writes “he plays through defenders and not around them. He is also a skilled big man, with soft hands and a powerful wrist shot that gives him high-end potential as a goal scorer. Additionally, Cuylle shows well as a defensive player at times, with a high IQ in the neutral and defensive zones. Attributes aside, consistency is currently an issue.”

Categories
2020 Draft

What to look for from the Rangers on Day 2 of the NHL Draft

Day 2 of the NHL Draft begins at 11:30AM and the Rangers have the following picks:

  • Round 3: 92nd Overall
  • Round 4: 103rd Overall
  • Round 5: 134th Overall
  • Round 6: 165th Overall
  • Round 7: 196th, 197th, 206th Overall

The Rangers traded the 72nd overall pick as part of the package to move up from 22 to 19 to select Braden Schneider.

They traded their 2nd Round pick to Carolina in exchange for Adam Fox.

5PM is the deadline to qualify RFAs, specifically Ryan Strome.

When asked about Strome and qualifying offers following Round 1, Jeff Gorton said that he would talk about it after Day 2. (NHL Media)

Adam Rotter: The biggest thing about today for the Rangers likely revolves around Ryan Strome and what they do with him. He could be qualified, he could not be qualified or he could be traded. Some think the Rangers could deal him today to a team that has multiple second round picks, but others think that he has very little value since he could be gotten for just cash on Friday. The benefit to a team moving him for a pick is that they can qualify him and know that they have him, rather than letting everyone else in the league bid for him on Friday.

What we know for sure is that with a 5PM deadline, we will have an answer for sure on their plan for Ryan Strome.

Other than that, I think you could see the Rangers move up a couple of times, maybe packaging their 3rd and 4th round picks to move up in the third round and then using their surplus of seventh round picks to maybe move up a few slots for someone they want in either the 5th or 6th round.

Categories
2020 Draft Braden Schneider

Rangers select Braden Schneider 19th Overall

With the 19th pick overall, the Rangers select defenseman Braden Schneider of Brandon of the WHL

The Rangers traded #22 and #72 to Calgary for #19. They believed that the Devils were going to take Schneider with the 20th pick. (Brooks)


Following the draft, Jeff Gorton said the following about moving up, “He has high character. If you watch the playoffs this year you saw a lot of players like him that had success. He’s very hard to play against, he can move a puck, good size, he has the high character and leadership capabilities. He’s very mature, knows his game, understands exactly how he has to play. When you put it all together and combine it with how high we had him on our list, we just thought that moving up and giving up a third-round pick to move up some spots was a good decision for us.” (NHL Media)


Schneider is 6-2, 202 and is a right handed shot.

Central Scouting says that he plays like Shea Weber and Schneider said that he models his game after Weber and Alex Pietrangelo.

Central Scouting’s report says, “displays a strong presence on the ice. Makes big hits in all three zones. Strong on his skates and hard to knock off the puck. Used in all situations. Likes to join the rush using deceptive speed. A complete package on the blue line who can control a game.”

From Central Scouting: “Won the Western Canada softball championships with the Prince Albert Astros in 2014 and 2015”

Craig Button said on NBCSN, “It’s going to be interesting because I don’t think the Ranger fans are going to like him and I don’t think David Quinn is going to like him because he’s really competitive and plays physical and he plays hard and he makes life miserable for opponents and he’s no fun to play against. All he has done in his three-years in the WHL is continuously improve, he’s improved his entire game, skating, puck play and if you want to get space against Braden Schneider, good luck, because he isn’t giving up easily, he’s after you in every moment of the game. He will jump into the attack and you watch a player who is raw at 15/16 and watch how much he’s progressed, it’s pretty impressive. He reminds me of Jacob Trouba with his approach to playing.”

The Hockey News wrote that Schneider’s best case is Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin.

They wrote, “he’s a typical pro defenseman who will probably play in the NHL for 15-20 years. Big body, physical, skates very well, has a little bit of offense to his game. Just an all-around, terrific D-man who is responsible in his own zone. He’s strong, he plays like a pro now.”

Bob McKenzie said on NBCSN, “he is a right-handed, shut down D. He can be a PP shooter on a second PP, but he’s primarily a guy that gets in your face and is hard to play against.”

Pierre McGurie said on NBCSN, “there is a whole lot of nasty, an old school player. If you are a Ranger fan you think about Jeff Beukeboom and there is that old school nasty, in-your-face, grind you into the ground kind of player.”

Adam Rotter: I wasn’t surprised the Rangers moved up, but I was a little surprised they moved up to take a defenseman. With centers still on the board it seemed like they would go in that direction, but instead they take a player in Schneider who checks a lot of boxes for what the Rangers need more of: tough, physical, hard working defensemen. It was 10-years ago that the Rangers seemed to take a similar player in Dylan McIlrath, but skating and speed were always an issue for McIlrath and Schneider is considered to be a much better, more mobile skater. The Rangers are deep with defense prospects but Schneider brings a different kind of game than K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist or Matthew Robertson. Time will tell, but we know for sure that the Rangers need more snarl and players that are hard to play against, Schneider is that.

Categories
2020 Draft Alexis Lafreniere

Rangers select Alexis Lafreniere #1 Overall

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.”

Button’s ratings on Lafreniere:

  • 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.