Ever since the “mystery team” won the NHL Draft Lottery this past Friday night, a bunch of teams have fans debating if losing the qualifying round would be better. That’s because all eights teams that get knocked out will have a 12.5% chance of getting generational talent Alexis Lafreniere with the number one pick. It is an odd conversation to have, but we are talking about a decent shot at landing a franchise player that could have the offensive potential of a Sidney Crosby. Where do you stand? Let’s discuss.
Who is NHL Prospect Alexis Lafreniere?
Alexis Lafreniere is a LW coming out of the QMJHL, oddly enough for the same team Sidney Crosby played for, the Rimouski Oceanic. The kid has hands, vision, skating agility, speed, high hockeyIQ, and a great shot on top of all that. He is by far and away the number one choice in this draft.
“He’s already one of the best players in the world, in my opinion, so he’ll step right in,” NHL Central Scouting senior manager David Gregory said. “Unless something really dramatic happens, he’s going to go to a team that needs immediate help.”David Gregory, NHL Central Scouting
Well the dramatic did happen and a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, if they get knocked out could add Lafreniere who scored 112 points in 52 games to their stacked lineup. I mean could you imagine Lafreniere playing with John Tavares or Auston Matthews out of the gate? That is why 16 “play-in” teams are having this debate.
The Rangers: Cup Run or a chance at Lafreniere
Let’s be clear about this, no matter what, the Rangers are going to get a taste of playoff experience even if they lose to Carolina. However, this is no ordinary playoffs. All these teams will have not played a single game in over three months, so throw those records out the door. All teams are starting fresh and more importantly healthy. The Blueshirts, as a prime example will have a healthy Chris Kreider ready to go after fracturing his foot against the Philadelphia Flyers. And don’t forget, down the stretch the Rangers were one of the better teams in the NHL.
Just picture it, Igor Shesterkin returns and picks up his red-hot play where he won 10 out of 12 games he started. Mika Zibanejad continues his torrid scoring pace where he notched 14 goals in his last 10 games. Should Artemi Panarin simply continue his Broadway Breadman routine as he’s done all season, this Rangers team could pull off a Cup run we haven’t seen since 2014. Hell, they may even be able to do what that team didn’t….win it all.
So now that have you the two possible “what if” scenarios, what would you like to see? A run for the Cup that could see the Stanley Cup in the hands of kids like Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox, and Igor Shesterkin already? Or an early exit and a 12.5% chance at a player the world says is the best prospect around in Alexis Lafreniere? You decide.