The NHL Draft Lottery drama has finally concluded with the first overall pick headed to Manhattan, New York. The New York Rangers will almost certainly select Alexis Lafreniere, unless approached with a deal from another team for the first overall pick. (Something the Rangers must consider approaching some of the tightest cap years in their history).
With such hype comes doubt, many are questioning the skill of Lafreniere, likely the response of bold claims that he will have the same effect on his future landing spot as former first overall picks Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. The pressure of the NHL draft is one of the worst things about it, teams expect a franchise changer in an 18-year-old kid, ignoring development and raising mental prowess at times. Many details suggest, however, Alexis’ maturity and game is unquestionable.
The 18-year-old Quebec native stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs in at roughly 192lbs. A great size for an entering draft pick, while most kids have to be judged by potential size and ability. Alexis starts at a very good base and could become a great physical presence. Although it’s not a physical presence that gets you a “secured” first overall spot,
Alexis put up 42, 37, and 35 goals for 80, 105, and 112 points in three seasons for the Rimouski Oceanic. He was the QMJHL MVP and CHL Player of the Year for his dominant performance in 13 playoff games, 9 goals and 14 assists for 23 points. He also led his Gold Medalist Team Canada in goals per game at the 2020 IIHF World Championships, at four goals in games games.
Alexis has always excelled in every facet of his game and has always been the very best at every level of hockey he has been apart of. His jaw-dropping acceleration and quick thinking make him the perfect playmaker. His vision allows him to drive any offensive opportunity he can weed out of the opposing defense. He often drives to the net, slides around the opposition for a comparatively powerful shot in motion, or sharply picks up a rebound to give himself and his teammates chances.
You can also often find Alexis using his physical presence to fight for the puck in the corners, make a slick pass, and immediately find another option for his linemates. Anything and everything he does, by the boards, in the slot, or simply coming through the neutral zone is identified by his imposing hockey IQ, adapting to his teammates or the systems of the opposition. His size and speed also gives him some defensive assets and a lot of utility to make protecting the puck to support his tool kit as a transitional forward. Simply, Lafreniere has everything a team would want. Whether you’re a playoff-caliber team that fell out of the play-ins or dead last in the league.
Obviously Lafreniere would sign to an entry-level contract. Almost definitely making the team out of training camp, Lafreniere’s immediate performance would dictate a long term offer the Rangers would likely try to come to terms with. If he immediately clicks, which is unlikely but very possible for such a talented but young prospect, the Isles will probably try to lock him up longterm.
Likely overpaying for the negotiating power of such success. If he has a slower start, the Rangers and Lafreniere would likely come to terms with a bridge deal, a couple of years with a large compensation. Any scenario you take, assuming the goal is consistently to develop and turn Lafreniere into a franchise player, the price point will be a pretty penny. Costing the Rangers any future depth.
Anything goes wrong and the Rangers could be the victim of contract misfortune for years to come. No matter what way you shape it or what the status of a team is, Lafreniere would be a franchise changer for any team. He is everything a team looks for in a first-line superstar winger and whatever cap trouble or systems navigation it would take to secure him long term would surely be worth the risk and trouble.