Should the NY Rangers let Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere play in the World Juniors?

The IIHF has released their 2021 schedule, and with it comes the 2021 World Juniors. Both Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere are eligible to participate in the World Juniors, but will the Rangers let them? Does the start date of the 2021 NHL season have an impact on their decision?

The NHL is targeting a January 1 start date, but in a COVID world, that is far from set in stone. The only thing we do know is that it won’t be any earlier than January 1, but it could be later.

A January 1 Start Date

Since this is what the NHL is targeting, we have to assume this is going to be on the table for as long as possible. Training camp and preseason –if there is a preseason– would likely begin either the first or second week of December.

In this case, the Rangers are extremely unlikely to send either to the World Juniors. The Rangers opted to keep Kaapo Kakko off Finland’s roster last year, and it makes sense that they would do the same with him this year.

Lafreniere is a bit of a different situation. It would be his first NHL season, but he could get a decent tune up in international competition instead of a truncated NHL preseason. However, like Bob McKenzie noted, the Rangers are unlikely to have him participate either.

The Blueshirts will want their first ever #1 overall pick to be with the team and get him as much NHL experience as possible.

A Delayed Start

If the January 1 target doesn’t come to fruition, then things may change. If the season gets delayed long enough, then the option to send both Kakko and Lafreniere to the World Juniors remains open. One thing to keep in mind is when training camps and preseason start. It’s safe to assume that as long as there is overlap, then the NHL season will take precedence over the World Juniors.

Would the Rangers actually send them both to the World Juniors though? It’s a risky proposition. The pair represent the future for the Blueshirts. Any injury outside of the NHL could be disastrous. Imagine the backlash if that happened?

On the flip side, watching Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko in the World Juniors could be something we need. 2020 has been multiple gut punches for all of us, so watching them dominate would be therapeutic. The only way this happens is if there is a big delay.

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  • If I were in the driver’s seat, I’d say no for one reason only, the possibility of injury. I’d want to protect our assets as best we can!!!!!!!!

  • If it were up to me, I wouldn’t let kakko play… he’s been constantly playing and is a major reason he didn’t play well in his first nhl season, he played juniors and in his own league (liiga) so he’s played like 2 straight years with lack of rest, let him rest and start the nhl season strong. And for laf, what else does he have left to prove ? Why risk him and get hurt, both should sit for the NHL season

    • I think he’s had enough time off at this point.

      Vegas owner is talking of February start, so having them go to camp should be a gimme.

  • For sure let them play. Hockey players need to be doing what they do best and that is playing hockey.

  • Nope, but for two different reasons.
    Lafreniere has nothing left to prove, so why chance an injury.
    Kakko because the kid played so much hockey prior to joining the Rangers his game suffered. Let him rest and when the season starts we will see what made him worthy of being the #2 pick.

  • NOPE!!!

    2.Let them go to training camp,connect with their teammates,and get in sync with their line mates.

  • That is a hard one really. The kids love to play in these things, and it would probably boost their confidence to do so. I understand the hesitancy because of the risk of injury, but hockey players love to play.

  • Hockey players…. play hockey … let them play zero downside young kids they’ll live

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