Rangers Roundup: Alexis Lafrenière on COVID list, Lauri Pajuniemi called up, and more

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Oct 2, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the game winning goal against the Boston Bruins during an overtime period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have announced that forward Alexis Lafrenière has entered COVID protocol. As a result, Lauri Pajuniemi has been added to the roster. Igor Shesterkin is off the COVID list and could play tonight against the Sharks.

Alexis Lafrenière on COVID list

Lafrenière has played well since being given the opportunity and more ice time with Panarin out. The 20 year-old had a nice little scoring stretch but tapered off with no points in his last three games. For the season, he has 11 points (8G, 3A) in 37 games.

With Artemi Panarin back from COVID protocol, Lafrenière was trying to get acclimated to switching wings. It’s a move that the Rangers first overall pick openly admitted he was not 100% comfortable early in the season.

“I played left wing my whole life, so obviously I’m most comfortable there,” Lafrenière said on Wednesday. “I’m ready to try and adjust to right wing and play the best hockey that I can.”

“It’s a little different coming back to your own end playing right,” Lafrenière said of the adjustment. “I’m comfortable. It’s going to take a couple of games but I think I’ll learn.”

Alexis was on the right side in L.A. and was looking for more reps but that will have to be put on hold.

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Nov 26, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) follows the play during the third period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Potential Rangers lineup moves

Lafrenière’s possible lineup replacement is either Anthony Greco or Pajuniemi.

Greco, 28, signed as an unrestricted free agent on October 9th, 2020. The native of Queens, NY has scored 23 points in 26 games for the Wolf Pack this season. If he plays tonight, it will be his second NHL game. The first games with the Florida Panthers back in 2018.

He was already on the roster as the 13th forward.

Pajuniemi, 22, was taken by the Blueshirts in the fifth round of the 2018 Draft. Before being added to the taxi squad on January 8, he had seven goals and 15 points in 27 games for the Wolf Pack. This would be his NHL debut.

Another very likely debut is that of Braden Schneider. When asked about it today, temporary coach Kris Knoblauch noted who is partner would be.

“If Schneider were to play tonight, he’ll play with Nemeth.”

Schneider, 20, has picked up nine points (all assists) in 24 games with the Pack this season. The 6-2, 202 lbs defenseman is a physical presence on the blue-line that likes to hit hard and often.

The Saskatchewan native was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft. New York moved up to select him 19th overall by exchanging their first round pick (22nd overall) and a third round selection with Calgary.

“I want to show that I can play at this level and that I belong here,” Schneider said on Wednesday.

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