9:18PM: Kaapo Kakko, who is still eligible to play at the World Juniors, will not play for Finland.
6:18PM: Hockey Canada has confirmed that the Rangers will not release Alexis Lafreniere to play for Team Canada at the World Juniors.
Rangers President John Davidson was a guest on the Cam and Strick Podcast this week and said the following about the Rangers:
The Rangers have announced that Alexis Lafreniere will wear #13.
Lafreniere will be the 9th Ranger to wear #13, following (NYR Media Guide):
Lafreniere wore #11 with Rimouski and Team Canada. #11 has been retired by the Rangers twice, for Mark Messier and Vic Hadfield.
The Rangers have signed #1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere to his entry-level contract.
Lafreniere will have a cap hit of $925,000 per season. (CapFriendly)
Lafreniere will have $2.85 million in potential performance bonuses in all-three years of his contract.
Got drafted first overall
Signed his first pro contract
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 12, 2020
8:18PM: On MSG, John Davidson spoke about Alexis Lafreniere and said:
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):
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.”
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.
10/6/20 | Dave Reid said on the NHL Network, “I agree, he’s like a modern day Gilbert Perreault. He is ready to step into the NHL, he can do everything you ask of a top-end player. He’s not a center, he’s a winger, he’s going to be one of the best wingers for years to come. He can do everything you ask, wingers are usually the guys who work the boards and he loves playing physical, he is not afraid to step up. In the WJC his physical play really elevated his team. His defensive awareness and understanding of positional play is extremely strong, his passing ability is one of his best assets, He has an awareness of where his teammates are on the ice, his teammates are always better players when they play with him. His wrist shot is his best shot, he’s not a big one-time guy, not a big slap shot guy, a wrist shot guy but his ability to make his teammates better is what makes him so special. He’s got speed, size, hockey IQ, all of the attributes, he can pass, make the simple plays. Everything he does is done at a high level, at high speed and is very accurate. There are very few flaws in his game, his compete level is through the roof.
Billy Jaffe said on the NHL Network, “he’s always on pucks.”
8/16/20 | 9:30PM: Patrick Roy spoke, who coached against Lafreniere the past two-years in the QMJHL, spoke with Larry Brooks and said (NY Post):
Craig Button told Brooks that, like Artemi Panarin, Lafreniere makes his teammates better from the wing and compares him to Mikko Rantanen of Colorado. (NY Post)
Button adds that Panarin has an “edge to his game,” that he doesn’t “back down” and is a “competitor.” (NY Post)
8/11/20 | 11:53AM: In listing Alexis Lafreniere at #1 in their rankings, NHL Central Scouting describes him as an “exceptionally smart player with top-end speed and pull-away gear.”
They add, “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 to create plays in the offensive zone.
Central Scouting lists his comparable as Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau.
Lafreniere told The Hockey News in their 2020 Draft Preview, “I love being in high-pressure situations. Because I see pressure as a privilege and not like a weight on my shoulders. I want to be on the ice when the game is on the line. It’s a magical feeling, and it’s what I live for.”
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News wrote of Lafreniere In the 2020 Draft Preview, “he’s one of those rare left wingers who is capable of driving a line and is more of a playmaker than a pure scorer. And no, he will probably never be converted to center, a position he has never played in his life. There is no need to put him in the middle of the ice for him to play a 200-ft game.”
Campbell added, “One of the unique things about Lafreniere’s game is his adaptability in that he can play it any way you like it. He’d prefer it be based on skill and speed, but he’s prepared to engage in trench warfare if that’s what is necessary, all of which makes matching up against him difficult. His compete level is extraordinarily high and he has two assets that will prove to make him a dangerous offensive player for a long time – superior on0ice vision and a deadly wrist shot. Think Joe Sakic, it’s that good.”
Scouts told Campbell of Lafreniere:
The Hockey News Draft Preview’s scouting report wrote:
Ryan Kennedy wrote, at The Hockey News, “the key to Lafreniere’s game is his drive.”
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman writes that Lafreniere “understands how to create offense at an elite level” and is someone who is “responsible defensively, competes for pucks, drives the net and throws his body around.”
Pronman adds “Lafreniere is not a perimeter player. He makes hard plays to the net using his skill, strength and will to create chances.” (The Athletic)
The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler wrote of Lafreniere, while listing him #1 in his rankings, that he can “play through” defenders with his puck skills, “play around” them with his speed or “leverage his strength, drop his shoulder and drive to his spot.”
He adds that Lafreniere knows how to get open when he doesn’t have the puck, how to “engage physically” and that “he has all the tools he needs to be a dominant player with an without the puck at the NHL level.” (The Athletic)
In The Hockey News’ 2019 Draft Preview they listed Lafreniere as their number one prospect for 2020 and wrote, “super-smart and talented, he finished second in the QMJHL scoring.”
Chris Peters wrote at ESPN that Lafreniere “wanst the puck at all times, in all situations,” “has the skill and hands to make things happen when he has it” and brings a “physical edge” that can separate players from the puck.
Peters adds that Lafreniere “thinks the game at a high level,” has “elite anticipation and an understanding of what to do with the puck immediately after he gets it.” (ESPN)
The 2019 Future Considerations Draft Guide, in previewing 2020, wrote that Lafreniere “reacts and adapts to everything very quickly. He is very poised and patient with the puck which helps him make great decisions.”
Sam Costentino of Sportsnet said of Lafreniere, “he’s added layers to his game over the three years. He comes into the league and scores 42 goals, that was eye-popping, 80 points. He comes back the next year with 68 assists and 105 points. He has the adversity he faced at the World Juniors and being called out by Tim Hunter and being on a team that didn’t medal on home soil ever, so that was adversity he had to go through. He comes back, he has a great summer, now he adds some consistency, or there is more competitiveness and the physicality starts to come up. Now you have a playmaker, goal scorer, a guy that competes that is also playing the physical brand of hockey and you have a complete player.”
He added, ” there is a lot of people out there who haven’t watched him play that are saying ‘is he Connor McDavid, is he going to burn around the ice and be that dynamic guy?’ That is not what you are going to get but you are going to get a really well rounded player who makes those around him better and give you center-type qualities from the wing position. I’m really excited for what he is going to have to offer the Rangers this year.”
Costentino added he thinks Lafreniere could net 20 goals and between 50-60 points as a rookie.