Even before the offseason has ended, we are making our projected lines for the upcoming season. It’s hard not to when you get the first overall pick. But the one constant here is that we are all trying to guess what line Alexis Lafreniere will play on. There doesn’t seem to be a general consensus.
He’s Not A Center
Let’s just nip this one in the bud now. Alexis Lafreniere is not a center, so don’t expect him to slide into the 2C role any time soon. He’s a LW. Moving to center is very difficult, far more difficult than a center moving to wing. You don’t want to put that on a rookie.
Is Lafreniere capabale of playing center at some point? Maybe? We never thought we’d see Martin St. Louis at center, but then at 35 he was playing center for the Rangers. It’s not going to happen next year, though.
Easing Him Into The NHL
This is the prevalent theory, that the Rangers will ease him into the NHL. They already have Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin at LW, so starting Lafreniere on the third line seems to be the most logical scenario.
This also ensures that, barring any major roster changes, the top-six remain relatively unchanged. KZB will still be together, and Panarin will still have Kaapo Kakko on his line with a mystery center.
That means Lafreniere on the third line with….teammates? That remains unclear.
Future Top Line Winger
As this plays out, Kreider will move down the lineup, but before you get up in arms, that’s not a bad thing! If the Rangers want to compete, they need three or more legitimate scoring lines. Lafreniere is more skilled than Kreider, but Kreider is still one of the best net front presences in the league. Creating three legitimate scoring lines is a priority.
Easing Alexis Lafreniere into the NHL on the third line may not be a popular choice, but it’s the most logical based on what we’ve seen from the Rangers in the past. They did the same with Kakko, Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, etc. Don’t worry, he won’t be there long.