There’s finally clarity in RangersTown of who will be leading the club for the 2023-2024 campaign and beyond, and it’s Peter Laviolette. Laviolette is extremely well known commodity within the NHL and he’s also one of the most respected coaches within the NHL’s coaching fraternity. Laviolette is a great motivator and fiery personality which is a drastic shift from Gerard Gallant. It was clear that Gallant and Chris Drury didn’t share the same vision and now we will likely see the Rangers benefit from Laviolette, both on and off the ice.
One of the most crucial elements of this hire for the Rangers is that they’re in a precarious spot because they’re not a team full of veterans and they have a lot of young players that’re still developing. One of the major keys for Laviolette will be doing what his two prior predecessors couldn’t do: Develop Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere, plus others. Lafreniere and Kakko are pivotal to the Rangers success now and in the future. So while it’s important for Laviolette to not only win now he also has to do it while bringing along the young future.
Not the easiest of tasks.
It also doesn’t get any easier because Laviolette also will need to bring Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad’s playoff game to the next level. Everyone knows Panarin, with or without hair, is a tremendous regular season performer but his postseasons on Broadway have been lackluster, to put it nicely. If Laviolette is unable to get Panarin to elevate his performance in the playoffs then he’ll wind up looking for his next head coaching stop.
One of the bright sides for the Rangers is that Laviolette has shown the ability to elevate star players and develop youth. Look no further than his time in Philadelphia where he helped raise Claude Giroux to a superstar level and helped develop a young Sean Courturier. If history repeats itself we can except to see Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere respectively take yet another step forward.
The biggest caveat for Lafreniere will be if he commits himself to take the next step. We’ve yet to see the best Lafreniere has to offer at the NHL level and a lot of that also falls on the former first overall pick. If Lafreniere continues to not improve then it’ll be time to look at Lafreniere and not just the coaches. If it’s three coaches and still no elevation then at that point it’s on the player.
One of the most underrated players to hopefully get a boost under Laviolette will be young Filip Chytil. Chytil has shown more growth than any other of the young guys on the Blueshirts roster but he still has another level he can get to. If Laviolette is able to get through to Chytil the way he did with Courturier then the Rangers really should look to take off.
Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller should also greatly benefit from the hiring of Laviolette. Laviolette’s offensive system is aggressive, where it asks his defensemen to activate and join the forecheck which will play to the strengths of both Miller and Trouba. Laviolette’s leadership in the locker room should also help remove the burden from Trouba being the only real vocal leader in the clubhouse.
Laviolette’s known strengths are being a communicator, motivator, and in game adjustments all the things that this team asked for at the exit meetings. While the fans may not be totally inspired by the hire as you delve deeper, Chris Drury might’ve knocked it out of the park. Laviolette may be the perfect hire for an imperfect situation.