Rangers Roundup: Alexis Lafrenière preparing to play RW, plus Adam Sykora staying in Slovakia

Alexis Lafrenière had a solid sophomore season with the New York Rangers by scoring 19 goals and totaling 39 points in 79 games. In the postseason, he showed that his game could find another level as he picked up his physical play. That led to an additional 9 points (2G – 7A) in 20 playoff contests.

What was most impressive about his stats is Alexis did it by playing third-line minutes with little to no power play time.

At season’s end, the 20 year-old acknowledged that with both Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin occupying the top two left wing slots, his best chance is to move to the right side.

“I want to play in the top six eventually, that’s my goal,” Lafrenière said. “I want to watch them and learn from them but hopefully next year I can play in the top six.”

Alexis Lafrenière preparing to play right wing

alexis lafreniere
Apr 11, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) awaits a face-off against the New York Islanders during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers first overall pick in the 2020 Draft recently spoke with Arthur Staple of The Athletic (subscription required) to discuss his season. When asked about moving around the lineup throughout the 2021-22 campaign, Lafrenière said he was unfazed.

At one point. Gerard Gallant tried to give Lafrenière top line minutes on the right with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. The experiment didn’t last long as the head coach noted that Alexis didn’t seem comfortable defensively in that position.

“For me, left wing, right wing, I’m ready to play wherever with whoever,” Lafrenière told Staple. “Every line you’re on you’re playing with skilled players. Wherever I am next season, I’ll be ready.”

Alexis even added that he’s already working on being better at right wing this offseason.

“Just some small details, working on the right side of the ice, breakouts, zone entries, stuff like that,” he noted. “It’s details but if you get more comfortable doing it you help yourself when it comes time to do that. I’m not changing my summer work a whole lot though.”

One thing that Lafrenière admitted needed work in order to take the next step was his skating.

“I want to be a better, faster skater, so I’ll work on my skating, but I want to be stronger, too,” he said via the NY Post. “I’ll try to find a balance and work on everything, but my skating is more of the focus.”

Adam Sykora staying in Slovakia

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Rangers Adam Sykora, a 17-year old forward from Finland, works out during the Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Rangers Training facility in Greenburgh July 12, 2022. Rangers Development Camp – Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News-USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Rangers signed their first pick in the 2022 NHL Draft Adam Sykora to a three-year entry-level contract at the end of Development Camp this summer. Per CapFriendly, the AAV is $950,000.

“I came out after [the scrimmage] and they told me ‘you’re going to sign’,” Sykora said. “I was real excited and happy for it. Great day for me.”

Sykora 17, recorded 10 goals and 17 points in 46 games with Nitra. He added two goals in five games for Slovakia at the 2021-22 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

“Adam Sykora’s motor is outstanding,” Director of Scouting John Lilley said. “He doesn’t stop working. He’s highly competitive. I don’t want to take away from his skill set and his ability to skate. But he’s definitely a high character, hard-working player.”

The other objective for the Rangers to sign him promptly to his ELC was to have more of say in where he plays to continue his development.

For this season, HK Nitra has the final word and Sykora will remain with the team for 2022-23.

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