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.