Alexis Lafreniere

What the Rangers could be getting in Alexis Lafreniere

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):

  • “Character” describes Lafreniere and that he did a “super job” of handling the pressure and spotlight of being touted as the #1 overall pick.
  • “He’s a team player and a team guy. Without a doubt he would fit in with the Rangers and perform very well in New York.”
  • “He does what it takes. He is committed to winning.”
  • “He’s a great playmaker. He skates really well. He goes in traffic. His shot is good. He is capable of scoring. He’s smart. He’s been dedicated for a long time to being very, very, very good.”

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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:

  • “He has the size, hockey sense, competitiveness, strength. There’s nothing lacking in his game.”
  • “As teams take take away his playmaking, he’ll become more dangerous scoring because he’s so smart. He’s really, really competitive, and this comes as part and parcel of maturing, but he’s become more edgy as time has gone on. To the point where he’s like, ‘You want to come near me? Take this.'”
  • “Alexis understands when he’s got to shoot, when he can make the pass, who he’s going to pass it to. Those are all things that transfer to the NHL, understanding what’s unfolding in front of you and the response needed. It speaks to exceptional IQ. Players can think about the immediate play, but they don’t understand what the next play is. Alexis has all that and more.”

The Hockey News Draft Preview’s scouting report wrote:

  • “He’s basically an NHL player right now playing junior hockey. He has the size, hockey sense, competitiveness, strength….there’s nothing lacking in his game.”
  • “He’s not going to be a superstar, but he’s going to be a star. He’s going to be a player who can do so many different things in a game.”
  • His “best case” is Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau.

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.”

They add:

  • “His passing skills are simply exceptional”
  • “He displays good instincts in his own zone” and “used in several high-leverage and shorthanded situations.”
  • “He’s a well-rounded player and will backcheck hard in his own zone in support of his defensemen.”
  • “A very fiery player, he seems to elevate his game in high-pressure situations. He wants to win and succeed at the highest level possible.”

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.

2020 Draft Alexis Lafreniere

Ottawa says they won’t be trading #3 and #5 to try for #1

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyck said that the idea of the Sens trading #3 and #5 for the #1 overall from the Rangers is “nonsensical.” (Ottawa Sun)

There has been speculation since the Rangers won the #1 overall pick last week that teams may try to trade for it and allow the Rangers to move back and select a center.

Bruce Garrioch does write that there is an expectation that Montreal may try to take a run at #1, though the earliest pick they would have in the first round would be #16. (Ottawa Sun)

Adam Rotter: On paper it makes sense for Ottawa to trade #3 and #5 to the Rangers because the Senators could land not only their next franchise player, but a French Canadian one at that. In reality though, it doesn’t make sense for them or for anyone to pay the crazy price the Rangers would require. The teams mentioned as possibilities like Ottawa, and to some extent LA, are rebuilding and aren’t in a position to move multiple “A+” level assets for one player, even if that player is Alexis Lafreniere. Ottawa, which struggles to attract free agents and keep their own star players, needs to add players to team with Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot, not subtract from it.

The type of trade the Rangers would accept for #1 from Ottawa (probably something like Tkachuk, #3 and two of Ottawa’s four second round picks, if not more) or LA (#2, Alex Turcotte and two second round picks, if not another piece) make no sense for those teams. Think about if the Rangers were Ottawa or LA. Would you move Kakko, #2 or #3 and more for Lafreniere? The Rangers wouldn’t do that, because like LA and Ottawa they are trying to build up the amount of talent they have, not subtract from it. Montreal, because of what Lafreniere would mean to the team and city is probably the only team that, on paper, would make a crazy offer for #1 but, again, the price the Rangers would require would subtract multiple young forwards off a team that needs to add scoring, not subtract. The Rangers won #1 overall, they will keep the pick and on Opening Night for the 2020-21, or just 2021 season, Alexis Lafreniere will step on to the ice in a Ranger jersey.

2020 Draft Alexis Lafreniere

The idea of the Rangers trading #1 overall

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.

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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.

Alexis Lafreniere

Alexis Lafreniere won’t be going back to the QMJHL or Europe prior to training camp

Bob McKenzie tweets that potential #1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere won’t be reporting to QMJHL training camp for Rimouski or playing in Europe prior to 2020 NHL Training Camp.

McKenzie said that Lafreniere is training in Boisbriand, Quebec and plans to report to NHL training camp when they expect to open in November.

When asked by the media on Monday if he would consider going back to Rimouski, Lafreniere said “for sure, there are a couple of possibilities but we don’t know yet our decision. We will talk with my agents and family and make the best decision that we can.”

When asked about his current training regimen, Lafreniere said “I’ve been on the ice a couple of times a week for maybe two months now. It’s always fun to work on yourself and the player you try to become, and the gym too. To be productive in the NHL you have to work in the gym and on the ice to get better. You need to work hard and try to improve every year.”

As of now, the QMJHL is planning to start their season in October.

Adam Rotter: The thought was that Lafreniere could return to the QMJHL and play there for a month or so, if they play at all, and then come to NHL training camp but he has opted not to do. Europe was also an option as many European leagues are planning to start this fall but Lafreniere will stick with what he’s been doing and keep prepping for the draft in October and, hopefully, the beginning of training camp around Thanksgiving.