Rangers Rumors: Canucks want Alexis Lafreniere, and coach delays

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
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The rumors that the Vancouver Canucks are very interested in Alexis Lafreniere continue to persist. This has only been exacerbated because he’s an RFA that’s due for a new contract this summer.

Larry Brooks in a recent article for the NY Post Sports+ (subscription required) indicated there’s plenty of credence to Vancouver wanting the first-overall pick from the 2020 NHL Draft.

For the record, that speculation began the moment the Canucks hired his former agent Emilie Castonguay as assistant GM in 2022.

Canucks want Alexis Lafreneire

alexis lafreniere kaapo kakko
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this season, when Lafreniere was struggling, conjecture began that the Rangers would possibly move the 21 year-old forward. However, multiple reports soon after noted that GM Chris Drury was unlikely to do so.

“He’s had a concerning run (since being drafted),” Elliotte Friedman said. “I think a priority is to find a coach who can reach [Lafreneire]. I don’t think the Rangers want to trade this guy. You can either trade your problem or solve your problem and I always think it’s best to solve your problem.”

For his career, Lafreniere has posted just 91 points in 216 regular-season games. That’s a .42 points per game average, which is only good for 8th regarding first-round picks in his draft class (min 50 games played).

If the two sides are at an impasse over his upcoming contract, I believe it’s possible he could be moved and the Canucks are a likely destination. Some even speculated Brock Boeser as the main piece coming back.

Boeser, 26, is a right wing that scored 18 goals and 55 points in 74 games last season. Solid numbers but is that enough to give up on Lafreniere? It should also be noted that Boeser has an AAV of $6.65 million and will be a UFA in 2025. A pretty difficult fit for the Rangers cap even if Vancouver ate some of that contract.

It’s more likely that the Blueshirts would ask for Vasily Podkolzin, who has one-year remaining on his ELC of $925,000. The 21 year-old right wing was taken 10th overall the year before, and registered 7 points in 39 games in 2022-23. I also think the Rangers would want more than just Podkolzin in return.

Ultimately, I can’t see the Rangers giving up on Lafreniere this early in his career. Especially not for anything the Canucks have to offer that would make sense for both sides.

Rangers coaching delay

The Rangers coaching search continues, or at least everyone believes that’s the case.

Peter Laviolette remains the favorite to land the job, and maybe he already has it. If true, the delay could be in finalizing his coaching staff. The Rangers cleared the way when they dismissed Mike Kelly and Jim Midgley soon after firing Gerard Gallant. Even though Gord Murphy remains with the organization, Laviolette will want someone of his choosing alongside him.

John Hynes was recently let go by the Nashville Predators and could be a great assistant coach. There may also be the possibility of bringing Kris Knoblauch up to join the staff as well.

One thing is clear, Patrick Roy won’t even get a phone call and Sheldon Keefe looks like he will stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs. So who else may be out there?

Joel Quenneville may be the only other reason no decision has been made yet. Despite earlier reports that the Rangers wouldn’t go this route due to his role in the Chicago Blackhawks scandal, they may be waiting to see if Gary Bettman reinstates him after the Stanley Cup Final.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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