In 2020, where the strangest outcomes are the most common, the New York Rangers won a special phase 2 of the NHL entry draft and thereby will pick first in the upcoming draft that is scheduled for October. The more than likely first-round pick will be a junior hockey sensation, Alexis Lafreniere. Many people know that he is how good, but just how good can Lafreniere be?
The New York Rangers are getting a superstar in the making
The first bit of good news occurred on Wednesday when Bob McKenzie of TSN reported that Lafreniere will not go to Europe or stay in Quebec but instead report to the Rangers when training camps are expected to resume for the 2020-21 season in November.
Draft related update: Alexis Lafreniere will not be reporting to Rimouski’s training camp this fall and will not be going to Europe to play. He’s training in Boisbriand, plans to be drafted and report to his NHL team in November and play 20-21 in the NHL.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) August 12, 2020
The New York Rangers are preparing to select a top talent to join the rest of the young talent on the team, they are getting a player who many feels can be exceptional in the NHL for years to come.
For example, the NHL Central Scouting Combine said this about Lafreniere in their final report:
“Exceptionally smart player with top-end speed and pull-away gear. Great at carrying the puck and leading rushes. Executes under pressure and has great vision and anticipation – very good quickness with the puck and exceptional ability to change speed. Elite puck skills and visions to create plays in the offensive zone.”
NHL Central Scouting listed Jonathan Huberdeau as the best current player comparable for Lafreniere’s skillset, but the soon-to-be NHLer said the player he most models his game after is actually Patrick Kane. Many experts say he has the skills to be an impact player like Kane and Sidney Crosby. The comparisons to Crosby have come as Lafreniere and Crosby share two similar accomplishments from their time in the juniors: both have won back to back QMJHL MVP’s as well as being the CHL player of the league twice.
Lafreniere is not only talented, he is hockey smart as well. His agent, Emilie Castonguay, said it’s his hockey I.Q., vision and competition level that really separates him from his peers and leads him to be such a next-level playmaker. “When you have a player like that, it makes everybody around him better. Just the way that he’s able to see the game,” she said. “For me, when I look at a player – especially of his talent – the first thing you notice is every time he’s on the ice or every time he touches the puck, the game just slows down. There’s not a lot of players that are able to do that. Since he was very young, every time he’s been on the ice at every level, that’s what he’s been able to do.”
In addition to his skills and smarts, Lafreniere has already proven to be a big-game player. He was a high-impact playmaker every time he hit the ice, leading Team Canada to the gold medal in the most recent World Junior Hockey Championships with his team-high 10 points through five games. He earned tournament MVP honors in the process, despite missing some games due to injury that nearly sent the entire country of Canada into a frenzy.
Very soon, this elite talent will be joining other talented young players on the New York Rangers.