Why the Rangers should not trade Lafreniere, at least not yet.

The NY Rangers offseason has been a story of bargains and inactivity, with Chris Drury sticking to low cost free agents and betting on mostly the same roster for next season. It was also a story of a lack of trades. We know why the Rangers didn’t trade Barclay Goodrow, and they also held onto Alexis Lafreniere. Now we can look at why the Rangers didn’t trade Lafrenire, at least not yet.

Again to be clear, there were never any solid rumors that Lafreniere would be traded. It was mostly conjecture, and any time rumors were actually mentioned, Chris Drury refuted them vehemently. Given what we know about Drury, Glen Sather, and Jim Dolan liking to control the message, any rumors and subsequent denials are always taken with a grain of salt. Still, there are some good reasons why the Rangers didn’t trade Lafreniere yet.

Trades are on Drury’s terms

Much like with Goodrow, any Lafreniere trade was going to happen just to shed themselves of a player. Lafreniere is cheap for his production and a former first overall pick. He’s highly skilled and has been jerked around for most of his young career already. Lafreniere has also rarely been put in a position to succeed. His first two coaches were not exactly well loved by Ranger fans either.

The Rangers won’t give away Lafreniere, despite what some people want. Despite his –rumored– questionable offseason training approach, he’s still one of the top even strength scorers on the Rangers. It’s assumed that natural progression and experience, along with perhaps more steady playing time with other skill players, will help him take the next step.

Adding Dan Muse to the coaching staff was also a pretty important piece to unlocking Lafreniere’s potential. Now with a coach who specializes in prospect development, the Rangers have a guy who can hopefully get through to him. The Rangers didn’t trade Lafreniere yet because of this, they want to see how he reacts to a coach who will work with him to develop his game. If, after a few months, they sense an attitude change, then it’s worth it. If not, then it would time to cut bait.

Lafreniere is a bargain on his next contract

Lafreniere’s production is also very good for his contract. Forget about his draft position and focus solely on points per dollar. Lafreniere is a 15-20 goal, 35-40 point player at even strength. His next contract, per Evolving-Hockey and assuming it’s a two year bridge deal, is $2.7 million. Even with no powerplay time and the same production, that’s a bargain.

But, and this is a big assumption, Lafreniere takes a step forward and gets powerplay time, we could be looking at 25+ goals and 60+ points. He certainly has the skill to do so. While that would hurt the Rangers on Lafreniere’s third contract, it would be a major bargain right now, with the Rangers deep into win-now territory. Cost per dollar is a major reason why the Rangers didn’t trade Lafreniere.

Even if there is no progress, cost per dollar will likely play into why the Rangers wait out his bridge deal as well. It’s virtually impossible to find a 40 point player for $2.7 million that is available for trade. Especially one as skilled as Lafreniere with the upside. There’s still hope, even if it does appear to be dwindling.

The Rangers didn’t trade Lafreniere (yet) because there are too many legitimate reasons to keep him while in this win-now window. Things may change over the course of next season. Hell, things may change by training camp. These things are fluid, but the logic is sound as to why we didn’t see a trade yet.


Mentioned in this article:

More About: