It’s Lafreniere week here at BSB, and it was relatively unplanned. Despite having a 12.5% chance of landing Lafreniere at the draft lottery, I didn’t actually think it would happen. Lafreniere is the top pick in one of the best draft classes we’ve seen since 2003. Make no mistake, Alexis Lafreniere is going to have a major impact on the NY Rangers. He’s got the potential to be a legitimate game changer for the Rangers and around the league.
1. There is no way the Rangers trade the #1 overall pick. Let’s just nip that in the bud. It’s nice to talk about a theoretical scenario of trading down for the #3 and #5, or to the #2 to get Quinton Byfield and getting something else. It’s not going to happen. The Rangers will add their third top-line LW during the 2020 NHL Draft.
2. Drafting Lafreniere doesn’t immediately mean that a winger needs to be traded. The Rangers can run Kreider, Panarin, and Lafreniere as their 1-2-3 on one side with Buchnevich and Kakko as their 1-2 on the right side. Depth matters, and *cheap* depth is king. The Rangers will have five top line wingers with two on entry-level deals. That’s the depth that wins.
3. It’s going to be very interesting to see what the Rangers do with Ryan Strome now. Landing Lafreniere accelerates the rebuild, much like how landing Kakko, Fox, and Trouba did last season. But if the Rangers want to be true contenders, they have some difficult decisions to make.
4. Lafreniere certainly helps scoring depth, but the Rangers still have holes at center, mentioned above even with Strome, and on defense. These holes need to be addressed before the Rangers can be true contenders. K’Andre Miller helps, but they need left defense depth. Does packaging Alex Georgiev and Tony DeAngelo move the needle for left defense? What about for a middle-six center?
5. Another fun scenario – can the Rangers include that second 1st rounder with any of their RFAs to address those needs? Perhaps a 1LD so that Miller doesn’t need to fill that role immediately? Remember, cheap depth wins.
6. Speaking of cheap depth, the Rangers will have –barring trades– eight (!) players next year that are on ELCs (Lafreniere, Kakko, Chytil, Howden, Gauthier, Lindgren, and Fox. Throw in Kravtsov and Miller as probables, and that’s up to ten (!!). Cheap depth wins, folks.
7. One last time: Cheap depth wins. If there’s one major impact on the Rangers, it’s that Alexis Lafreniere adds that in spades.