For the first time last off-season, the Rangers struck gold on the night of the NHL Draft Lottery. They were awarded the second pick, and chose Finnish sensation Kaapo Kakko. While he has had his lumps, as most 18 year old players do, Kakko has shown Rangers fans flashes of talent that we have not seen before from players of his age. Kakko is going to be a top line, top power play player for this team for a very long time. In addition to Kakko, the Rangers have a plethora of young talent all over the globe, including a few with the big club right now. Some of those names include Adam Fox (21), Filip Chytil (20), Ryan Lindgren (21), K’Andre Miller (19), Nils Lundkvist (19), and Vitali Kravtsov (20).
The Rangers will likely be picking in the top-10 this year, so what do we expect that pick to be? If the Rangers were to get so lucky again in 2020 and win the draft lottery, the pick would be Canadian phenom Alexis Lafrenière.
Alexis Lafrenière – Background:
Born on October 11, 2001 in the town of Saint-Eustache, Canada, Alexis Lafrenière was destined for hockey greatness. Playing for the same team that the great Sidney Crosby once played for in the QMJHL, Lafrenière has all the makings to be an elite level talent in the NHL. Lafrenière was selected first overall by the Rimouski Océanic in the 2017 QMJHL draft, and has been talked about for quite some time. Lafrenière is talked about as a great attitude kid, who is an extremely passionate hockey player.
Alexis Lafrenière – The Player:
I hate to use the term “generational talent”, but Lafrenière has a chance to be that. When we talk about generational players we think of guys like McDavid, Crosby, Mario, Gretzky, so it is extremely elite company to be part of. With that being said, Lafrenière has the make up to be that kind of player. Like many 17 and 18 year old prospects/players, they need to work on parts of their game. When it comes to Lafrenière, there is not much, if anything, that he needs to “work on”. He will certainly grow as a player with age, but he can play in the NHL at the moment.
Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects says about Lafrenière – “A premier, point-producing machine off of the wing. Extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations. Scores in a variety of ways. Brings the noise. Can still improve on his two-step quickness and hitting the top gear sooner… but we’re nitpicking.” Scott Wheeler of The Athletic stated “… his strength, his unique ability to protect the puck out wide or through traffic, his touch around the net, his sublime playmaking ability and the fact that despite having all of those skills, he’s smart enough to know when to use them and when to make the simple play.” He is the unanimous (at the moment) number one overall pick, and a guy that can make an immediate impact at just 18 years old.
The first clip you see Lafrenière trailing the play on his off-wing. He jumps up in the rush and gets a pass in his feet. Lafrenière drops to one knee, and buries the so-so pass in the back of the net. At :59, you see Lafrenière on the forecheck. He comes in to intercept a pass, and does what we as Rangers fans know as the “Marek Malík” to bury the pretty goal. At 10:27, you see Lafrenière read and react to being on the back side of a play. The puck goes from left to right, and Lafrenière plants himself on the backdoor for the easy cross ice pass, and tap in – a good display of his hockey IQ there. Finally, at 12:33, you see Lafrenière come down the middle of the ice and receive a pass that he snaps home high glove side. This snap shot shows you the kind of release that Lafrenière possesses.
This highlight tape shows Lafrenière during the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in 2018, and the WJC in 2019. If you have time, give this entire video a watch because it displays all of Lafrenière’s incredible talents.
Alexis Lafrenière was voted the MVP of the 2020 WJC Tournament where he had 4 goals, 6 assists (10 points) in 5 games played.
Alexis Lafrenière Regular Season Statistics (QMJHL):
2017-2018 Rimouski Océanic: 60 GP – 42 goals, 38 assists – 80 points
2018-2019 Rimouski Océanic: 61 GP – 37 goals, 68 assists – 105 points
2019-2020 Rimouski Océanic: 30 GP – 23 goals, 47 assists – 70 points
2020 WJC – Canada – 5 GP – 4 goals, 6 assists – 10 points