The New York Rangers’ future took a dramatic turn last Monday with one bounce of a ping pong ball. The number one overall selection in this year’s NHL Entry Draft belongs to the Blueshirts.
Team president John Davidson knows who he and the Rangers organization want to pick as the top selection in the NHL Entry Draft which is to be held in October. Alexis Lafreniere is the projected top player and would look great playing on Broadway at Madison Square Garden. The winger played for Rimouski of the QMJHL recorded 112 points in 52 games this past season.
The decision to draft Lafreniere may not be as simple as it may appear, some team could make an offer for the pick.
Davidson spoke at length with Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside on this week’s Two-Man Advantage podcast. He discussed what it means to land the top pick in New York.
“When you sit there and you’re going to get the No. 1 pick, it opens up a whole lot of different thoughts and ideas. Most teams when they get the No. 1 pick, it’s generally a player that’s a very, very good player. So you don’t mess with it all. It opens up the avenue to do other things throughout your organization. It’s something we always will look at and analyze. We’ll see where it all goes.”
The Ottawa Senators are one club that could make an intriguing offer to get the Ranger’s first-round selection. The Senators will have the No. 3 and No. 5 picks in this year’s draft. They might be willing to give up their two picks for the number one overall selection. This draft has plenty of potential in the early selections. The next two projected players are center Quinton Byfield and forward Tim Stutzle. Byfield could be the center the Rangers have been looking for, but is it the direction the team wants to go?
Another team that could throw an offer at the Blueshirts are the Los Angelos Kings. They sit with the Number two overall selection ( they same spot the Rangers drafted Kaapo Kakko last year). The Kings would have to add some of their current prospects into the mix for J.D. and general manager Jeff Gorton to consider such a move, but again every offer made has to be considered. No offer is a bad offer, just one that may not fit the team’s needs.
The last time New York had the No. 1 pick was 55 years ago, taking forward Andre Veilleux in 1965. He never played in an NHL game, but doubt that will be the same conclusion this year.
Up to this point, the Rangers have been in a rebuild mode. a ping pong ball has now changed the outlook of the Blueshirts, one that includes an NHL Hart Trophy finalist with Artemi Panarin, an always improving center and team leader in Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko entering his second NHL season smarter and more improved and the undisputed best player available in Lafreniere potentially joining the club, the team will have to change its model from rebuilding to playoff-bound.
Listening to offers is part if every president and general manager’s job. The decision to pull the trigger on such offers is why these guys get paid the big money. A decision, either way, could have an impact on the next six or seven seasons. That’s years that no team can ill afford to lose.