Alexis Lafreniere officially scratched for NY Rangers lineup against Bolts

NY Rangers Game Tonight
May 5, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) checks New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) into the boards during the second period in game two of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Alexis Lafreniere will be getting the night off for the New York Rangers as a healthy scratch versus the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Per Newsday’s Colin Stephenson, Sammy Blais will take his pace in the lineup tonight.

Lafreniere, 21, was criticized by head coach Gerard Gallant for his recent play and was demoted to the fourth line at practice on Wednesday.

“I want him to be better obviously. Laffy’s gotten some chances to play with good people and he’s played well at times, but it’s inconsistency,” Gallant said. “You have to be consistent but he’s not alone.”

Well right now, the 1st overall pick from the 2020 NHL Draft is probably feeling pretty alone.

Alexis Lafreniere scratched

Alexis Lafreniere
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers really posted a stinker against the Capitals in a 4-0 loss at home coming out of the break. A lot of players were passengers on that night, but Lafreniere has been for several games.

Sure, you can talk about special teams ice time or lack thereof, but lately he and the second power play are getting more of it. That being said, Lafreniere, for all his talent has yet to show he can elevate his game at a consistent level through an arduous 82 game regular season.

“It frustrates you as a coach,” Gallant explained. “My job is to win games. We’re not developing right now. We develop in practice but we want to win games. We’re a good hockey team.”

Bottom line, the benching was earned but is Sammy Blais really giving you a better chance to win versus the Lightning than Lafreniere? The answer to that is an easy no.

Here’s a look at the potential lineup:

  • Kreider – Zibanejad – Kakko
  • Panarin – Trocheck – Goodrow
  • Kravtsov – Chytil – Gauthier
  • Blais – Brodzinski – Vesey
  • Lindgren – Fox
  • Miller – Trouba
  • Harpur – Schneider
  • Shesterkin
  • Halak

Alexis Lafreniere contract situation

This season, Lafreniere has amassed 17 points in 36 games. His 12 assists on the season tie a career high set last year and the youngster should surpass his top points mark of 31 as well.

While those are solid numbers for many young players, some feel Lafreniere should be doing much better being a first overall selection. As a draft lottery pick going to a team like the New York Rangers, who were on the up trend with superstar talent in place on eft wing (Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider), ice time has been hard to come by. It could be having an impact on him as this is a contract year for the three-year pro.

“I don’t think about it too much,” Lafreniere told USA Today’s Vince Mercogliano. “It’s not something that you’ve got to focus on. You’ve got to focus on just your play and trying to get better.”

There’s no doubt Alexis is saying the right things, but if he think he’ll cash in like Tom Stutzle did in Ottawa (8 years / $8.35M AAV), it’s highly unlikely.

Lafreniere will be an RFA at the end of the season.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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