Is Alexis Lafreniere on a show me deal with Rangers?

NHL: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Alexis Lafreniere joined the New York Rangers in 2020 with all the fanfare and hype reserved for a first overall pick. After dominating his final QMJHL season with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) for the Rimouski Océanic in just 53 games played, there were high expectations.

Of course, being drafted by a lottery team that was only two points out of the second wild card spot when the league was forced to shutdown early due to the pandemic, isn’t the typical path for such a prospect.

Since joining the Rangers, Lafreniere’s development has been impeded due to the prowess of veteran left wingers Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider. Unsuccessful attempts to convert him to right wing have only made the situation more difficult.

It’s led to a young career with just 91 points in 216 matches and endless trade speculation over this past year. However, despite a new extension those rumors may not be over yet.

Alexis Lafreniere on a show me deal?

Alexis Lafreniere
Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Rangers and Lafreniere came to terms on a two-year bridge deal for $2.325 million against the salary cap.

While many view the contract, myself included, as a byproduct of the flat cap and limited space, one of the NHL’s top insiders sees it differently.

“Basically what Lafreniere signs is a prove-it contract,” Elliotte Friedman said on his 32 Thoughts podcast.

“They don’t want to trade him, they want to keep him. If they are going to trade him at some point they want the value of a number one pick which isn’t there right now.”

This is certainly an intriguing perspective by one of the best hockey reporters in the world today. Friedman didn’t stop there and went a step further indicating that another subpar season for Lafreniere could be his last with the Blueshirts.

“I think if it’s another year like (last season), they’ll have to move on,” he added. “To me this is a two-year deal but it’s a one-year deal in New York and then we’ll see.”

The 21 year-old is entering his fourth NHL campaign and everyone is hoping for a breakout season. In 2022-23, he registered 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points in 81 games but the Rangers need more from him this season.

President and General Manager not only brought in a new head coach in Peter Laviolette, but a brand new young coaching staff with Phil Housley, Michael Peca, and Dan Muse to get more out of Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. In addition, the path is cleared for both youngsters to get more ice time on the power play this season as both Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko are off the roster.

So whether you fall in the camp of it’s a bridge deal or show me deal it really doesn’t matter. The Rangers need Lafreniere to be the player they drafted first overall this season and the rest of his career.

Hopefully, all on Broadway.

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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