Rangers Roundup: Alexis Lafreniere on RW, No PTO’s, and team ready for challenge
The latest New York Rangers news and notes centers around key takeaways from President and General Manager Chris Drury’s press conference.
On Thursday, Drury addressed members of the media about the upcoming season and provided some very important insights that will impact the Rangers lineup and season.
Alexis Lafreniere on RW
Much of the talk this offseason after free agency was 2020 first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere. Initially, the focus was on when he’d sign his next contract and what the terms would be. The dust settled on that question to the tune of two-years at an AAV of $2.325 million.
Then all attention was once again put on his low production for such a high draft selection and his lack of opportunities. Sitting behind Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider on left wing, attempts to move him to the opposite have not gone well to date.
“It’s good to have a couple practices playing right(wing)– you know after practice we just work on little things,” he said before being switched back after a few games last year. “It’s not a big change, but it’s just small things that I need to do different. It’s going well and it’s only practice, so I can’t wait to play games and to get used to it.”
Being essentially a third-liner, it has led to just 91 points over three seasons for the 21 year-old. But now, not only will Lafreniere be given a chance at right wing, so will prized prospect Brennan Othmann.
“I’m anticipating they’ll get every chance to play on the right and show what they can do,” Drury said via The Athletic. “I’m sure that can make for some exciting games and practices to watch in camp.”
At the opening of Rookie Camp, Othmann recognized the left wing logjam and stressed he can play right side.
“I know it says I’m a left winger, but I think I can play the right wing as well,” he said yesterday. “Those guys [Panarin and Kreider] will be pretty hard to beat out. Even with Lafreniere there’s three really good strong forwards. If I can play the right side, it’s very versatile. It’s just hockey.”
Drury did stress that the lineup card ultimately belongs to head coach Peter Laviolette and it will be his final decision.
One of the things teams look for prior to the start of training camp are some unsigned free agents that could help the club. Usually, those players are offered a PTO (Professional Tryout) in order to win a job and a standard contract.
Last season, Jimmy Vesey not only did just that, but he also turned that into a two-year extension in January.
This time around there will bo PTOs according to Drury, who wants to give the prospects and players he signed a real chance to show what they can do.
Rangers players ready for the challenge
The Rangers as an organization from players to management were upset with their first round exit to the New Jersey Devils last May. Despite the disappointment, Drury believes this group is ready for the next step.
“I think all of our players understand that to have success in the regular season and in the playoffs, you have to be able to take care of all three zones,” Drury explained. “I think guys are ready to accept that challenge from (Laviolette) and move forward.”
Veteran leader, Chris Kreider related similar sentiments in the summer and made it clear every play should have a chip on their shoulders this season.
“It’s a new year and a new challenge, and I think everyone’s excited,” Drury added. “Not just to get into training camp, but to try to get into the regular season and to try to reach our first goal of making the playoffs.”