3 Rangers who benefit most from the Peter Laviolette hiring

nhl: nhl draft, peter laviolette, new york rangers
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With each offseason comes change to NHL franchises across the league. Outside of trade deadline day, this can be the time that makes or breaks a team. Coming off the heels of a disappointing postseason showing, the New York Rangers made a massive change of their own this offseason, bringing in a fresh face behind the bench.

Peter Laviolette has been named the 37th head coach in franchise history and will be looking to bring some much-needed change to this lineup to help them get over their playoff woes and hopefully bring a cup back to the streets of New York.

Time for Alexis Lafreniere to shine with the Rangers

With a new coach comes new opportunities. Former head coach Gerard Gallant received heavy criticism for limiting the minutes of the kids but specifically, Alexis Lafreniere, who was only averaging 15:13 per game last season.

There was not much room for growth and error in Gallant’s system, and this hampered Lafreniere’s development. Most first-overall picks would immediately be slotting into a top-six role by this stage in their career, allowing for maximum time and growth as they adjust to the NHL level.

Finally, Lafreniere will get that chance, as it is Laviolette is expected to elevate him into a top-six role this season. He will also have more freedom to try new things under Laviolette, and, in turn, this trust from the new head coaching staff will help shape his confidence. Expect more plays like this from the former blue-chip prospect:

K’Andre Miller breakout season incoming?

Last year was an explosive offensive outing for K’Andre Miller, as he doubled his points total. He was able to set new career bests with 9 goals and 34 assists. However, this year it will be his defense that needs to take another step forward.

With Laviolette behind the bench, the entire defense should improve. But specifically, Miller, with his size and speed, he has the potential to be a game-breaker on both sides of the ice.

Laviolette-coached teams have always been defense-first, and this type of structure should help Miller carve out a more solid role in the defensive zone, making him a more well-rounded and a key cog on both the second powerplay unit and in crunch time of close games.

The entire Rangers 5v5 lineup

The worst part of the Rangers game last year was their play at 5v5. The reliance on the powerplay was too high and became evident when they played structured and disciplined teams.

New York hopes to have found the answer to these woes by hiring Laviolette and company.

Last year, Laviolette’s injury-riddled Capitals finished with 173 goals at 5v5 as opposed to the “superteam Rangers” finishing with 180 goals at 5v5. This is not a big enough gap between the 9th-best team and the 25th-best team in the league.

If this is what was considered a “down year” of Laviolette coaching, there is no reason to believe that the Rangers can’t finish within the top 10 teams at 5v5 play. Flourishing in this department should propel multiple players to reach their full potential and help this team climb to new heights.

The Blueshirts could potentially have a lineup with Igor Shesterkin in net while scoring at will in every facet of the game all season long. New York will look to blow that +58 goal differential out of the water this upcoming season, and Laviolette may be the perfect coach to bring them to the next level.

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