New York Rangers that should thrive under Peter Laviolette
The 2023-2024 New York Rangers season is set to get underway with training camp beginning shortly. Players such as Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, and Vincent Trocheck have already reported to the MSG Training Center with more set to return.
Although the Rangers signed many veterans to bargain deals in the offseason, the biggest move was bringing in Peter Laviolette to be the 37th head coach in franchise history.
One of the biggest questions this season will be which current roster players will thrive under the team’s new bench boss.
Peter Laviolette’s Style
On his fifth Metropolitan Division team, Laviolette is bringing an impressive resume with him. He won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and took the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In past seasons, the Rangers have aimed to construct a team that is hard to play against. The team was able to have that presence in their run to the conference finals two seasons ago, but Gerard Gallant couldn’t get the players to buy into a hard forechecking style of play.
Based on the current construction of the team this year, the Rangers don’t have a “tough guy” in their lineup that is considered a fighter. However, Laviolette can get the most out of his group by instilling his pressure style of play.
Laviolette’s teams have success when they have pressure up the ice, get deep on the oppositions defense, and play relentless in your face hockey. This style has been seen on past Stanley Cup Champions who are always on the puck in all three zones. With Laviolette’s coaching style, certain players are destined to have success.
Let’s take a closer look at which players should thrive under Laviolette.
New York Rangers that should thrive under Laviolette
Chris Kreider is coming off a 36 goal campaign last season and 52 goals the year before. He has been one of the league’s best net-front presence where he has a uncanny ability for tip-in goals. Kreider is a player who will undoubtedly thrive under Laviolette’s coaching style. With his speed and physical size, Kreider will look to be the main forechecker on a top line with Mika Zibenejad and possibly Kaapo Kakko. He will be able to cause turnovers and create scoring chances for his linemates. As player who can pressure the defense on breakouts, Kreider is perfectly suited for this role.
The Rangers signed Trocheck to a seven- year contract worth $39.375 million two summers ago. The front office brought in Trocheck with the hope that he would slot in as the second line center replacing Ryan Strome. That also meant finding chemistry with Artemi Panarin, which is still a work-in-progress. Despite that, Trocheck produced well offensively with 64 points in 82 games for the Rangers. He also was second on the team in hits with 182 only trailing Jacob Trouba.
Trocheck is a player who will have success this year with Laviolette’s coaching style. Two seasons ago in the second round, Trocheck was the in your face gritty forecheck for the Hurricanes. The Rangers had a tough time handling him and always managed to instigate when his team needed a boost. The Rangers lacked this presence against the Devils in the first round and needed Trocheck to be a player who gets under the other teams’ skin. Laviolette will insist on Trocheck playing a high-paced forechecking style on whatever line he centers this season and he should meet expectations.
Lafreniére is entering the most important season of his young NHL career. He has yet to live up to the expectations of being the 1st overall draft pick in 2020, and is now playing the first year of his two-year bridge deal to prove to the hockey world that he is the player that everyone envisions.
Laviolette has preached that Lafreniére and other young players will get top-six and power play minutes. For Lafreniére this will not only be an opportunity to improve his offensive numbers, but also for him to play in a high puck pressure system.
Lafreniére has been inconsistent in his first three seasons. At times, he looks impressive on the ice creating scoring opportunities and having a physical presence. However, when he is not on his game it’s very noticeable.
In the 2021-2022 run to the Eastern Conference Finals, Lafreniére played some of his best hockey by being one of the most physical players on the ice. He forechecked on every shift with the “Kid Line” and even dropped the gloves with Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. A potential foreshadowing of what’s to come under Laviolette.
It all starts on Day One
The biggest challenge for this group awaits as they transition from Gallant to Laviolette.
“You have to play to your strengths and weakness,” Laviolette said at his intro presser. “But when you can get a team to play a brand of hockey that I feel can be successful, I’ve found that success follows.
“I believe you have to play good defense and you see that in teams that win the Stanley Cup. For me it’s also about – you prepare yourself to play playoff hockey. When you watch the playoff games, it’s a reminder that the compete inside the game is what makes teams great. You have to practice that on a daily basis. It has to start in training camp and become part of your DNA.”
Laviolette will have to instill his style from day one to get his new team running out of the gates. It will take time for the Rangers to learn a new system of play, but with their amount of talent it should not take long before the team is comfortable. Certain players who fit Laviolette’s coaching style need to make use of their skill set to their advantage.