January 14, 2021

Alexis Lafreniere era begins tonight for the New York Rangers

Alexis Lafreniere (Nick Homler / NYR)

This is a long awaited debut for a New York Rangers draft pick. In 1965, they selected André Veilleux with the very first selection. Sadly, he never played a game in the NHL.

Never has a Rangers #1 overall pick taken his first steps onto Garden Ice wearing the Blueshirt. Tonight, history will be made when Alexis Lafreniere’s skate blades touch hallowed ground at Madison Square Garden. A new era will begin.

This isn’t about hype, it’s about hope

The New York Rangers have had great players in their history, but when it comes to their own homegrown stars, not many have the potential Lafreniere does.

The last great Blueshirts first round pick was Brian Leetch. Drafted 9th overall in 1986, he made his debut late in the1987-88 season. He became a two-time Norris Trophy Winner, and was the first American born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1994.

There hasn’t been that amazing a first round pick for the Blueshirts since.

What Lafreniere represents is a future where one of the Rangers very own choices, plays the role of some of today’s greats. Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Patrick Kane are just three names that come to mind. Three homegrown talents that took their franchises to the promised land never having worn another sweater.

To be fair, Alexis Lafreniere is going to be Alexis Lafreniere. No one is comparing him to those players by suggesting he will put up similar numbers. What I am saying is he represents the best opportunity the Rangers have ever had for a player like that. A franchise star that makes his whole team better and brings Stanley Cup glory.

Alexis Lafreniere
NYC loves Lafreniere (Getty Images)

Alexis Lafreniere excited to begin his Rangers career

“First NHL game is something I’ve been dreaming for a long time,” Lafreniere said yesterday. “It’s going to be a really special moment for sure.”

He’s not the only one that feels that way. The entire organization and its fans are eagerly anticipating it as well. All that excitement will meet reality once Lafreniere takes his first shift.

“A lot of nerves,” he admitted. “Maybe my first shift I’m gonna try to have a quick one and go from there.” When asked directly about added fan pressure, the 19 year-old kid answered it like a seasoned vet.

“I just try to focus on myself and everyday coming here and trying to get better as a player and as a team.”

So tonight, the Alexis Lafreniere era begins. It will be filled with not only his hopes but an entire franchise and city.

Alexis Lafreniere the first #1 pick overall to take the ice in Rangers history. The biggest 1st round draft pick star on Broadway since Brian Leetch. It’s the first step in what Rangers fans hope is a long and glorious journey.

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