The New York Rangers won the second draw for the 2020 NHL draft, which determined which team would have the opportunity to qualify at No. 1 overall. This first selection is widely expected to be the Alexis Lafreniere phenomenon of Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Hockey League.
In June, a country holder won the first draw, which means that one of the eight teams eliminated from the play-offs through the play-off qualifying round would have the honor of drafting the overall overall. The Rangers were swept away by the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. This will be the second straight year in which the Rangers pick in the top two places; they took Kaapo Kakko to No. 2 in 2019.
Our NHL team is here to see what it all means for Lafreniere, Rangers and the rest of the NHL.
On a scale of 1-10, rate the ridiculousness of the Rangers landing on No. 1 pick.
Greg Wyshynski: I would go 3 for the suitability of the Rangers win and 10 for how ridiculous it was. The Rangers were a non-play team with a percentage of 0.564 points when the season split in March, and they retired in the post-season season when the NHL expanded it to 24 teams. They are in the midst of a reconstruction – and a respectable one at the same time: Two years after a letter to fans clarified that hard times were ahead, they are now being protected.
This lottery became extremely funny the moment the Rangers ball was thrown prematurely into the car tube by its holder, causing everyone to say, ‘Huh, it would be ridiculous if the Rangers won,’ right until they in fact they did. But please do not blame this person for the surprise break: Can you imagine the frost he was getting while holding the ball? (Just kidding, people. If the NHL really had the ability to manipulate a lottery, Connor McDavid would be a Maple leaf or a Flyer.)
Emily Kaplan: The full responsibility here is that I grew up a Rangers fan. Young Emily would rate this as a 1 (she also, at one point, thought Wade Redden would take New York to a Stanley Cup, so get that thought the way you want it).
A neutral observer rating: This is probably a 5. There is always a perception that although the league is obsessed with expanding into different markets, it still favors its marquee teams. Not good for the NHL when the Rangers are not relevant. New York was also lucky in a lottery at No. 2 last year. That said, of the eight eligible teams, the Rangers were pretty worthy.
The team that should be most disappointed by the loss in Lafreniere is _______.
Kaplan: Minnesota Wild. I feel for the list inherited from Bill Guerin; The wild is old and slow. “There definitely needs to be change,” Guerin said earlier Monday. He also said that not only does he not have a real No.1 center on the list, but he also does not think there is one in the entire organizational system. Not ideal! Plus, Wild have never picked higher than No. 3 overall. But Guerin did something his two predecessors did not do when he signed the precious prospect Kirill Kaprizov from Russia. Kaprizov will inject Wildin with some youngsters next year. I just wish he had an arm with whom to enter.
Wyshynski: Maple Leaves of Toronto. Granted, the Leafs should not have had a hit to win the first overall selection as the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division. But when the NHL wanted to keep the draft before the start of the season, general managers rallied about the possibility of a team winning the best selection and the Stanley Cup in the same season. This was the system created to calm them down, and this is why four play-off-related teams had a kick to win the lottery. In the case of the Leafs, they are a closed team looking for a flat wage hat for at least the next two seasons. Lafreniere would have been a goddess, both in terms of influence and free labor.
Instead, the Leafs lose their first-round overall and must submit their first-round pick (all 13th) to Hurricane after they used it to turn down Patrick Marleau’s contract last summer. . GM Kyle Dubas has had better weeks.
Complete this sentence: “Thank you hockey gods for _____ not winning the draw.”
Wyshynski: Winnipeg aircraft. Don’t get me wrong: They are a deserving team and one that would have lost the playoffs by a percentage of 0.563 points in a traditional 16-team season. But if I could be a little selfish here, as an American NHL fan: Canadian teams have vacuumed Connor McDavid (Oilers), Leon Draisaitl (Oilers), Auston Matthews (Leafs), Patrick Laine (Jets), Matthew Tkachuk (Flames), Elias Pettersson (Canucks) and Quinn Hughes (Canucks). These are some of the most exciting young players in the world, all cloistered north of the border. I’m usually not a supporter of “[Player X] belongs to a place like New York! “But yes, Lafreniere belonged to a place like New York.
Kaplan: Edmonton Oilers. I just don’t think I could stomach it. They had four first general elections from 2010 to 2015. Four! Sure, McDavid and Draisaitl can use some help for scoring, but when your franchise gets so many chances to design first and still does silly things, like trading one of them for a deep defender, you need a stop time.
Which team that advanced to the qualifying round is regretting not taking a hit on Alexis Lafreniere right now?
Kaplan: Montreal Canadiens. (The answer could also be the Montreal media, who would have killed to finally see a Quebeccois star of the Quebec team). The Habits are of course happy to be involved in the play offs, but they have no business being here, as the 24th best team when the season was seen. Plus, although their qualifying series against Pittsburgh was inspiring, it showed that this team has excellent defensive acquisitions but can use skills to build around. The Canadians have Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield in the tube, so they may not be too salty.
Wyshynski: Coyotes Arizona. Yes, it ‘s great that they pulled off a boredom and advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. (Thanks to Darcy Kuemper for that). But here’s another drought they could have broken this summer: winning the first general election in the NHL draft for the first time since moving to Arizona and for the first time as a franchise since 1981, when Winnipeg Jets original chose Dale Hawerchuk. Coyotes are in a constant battle for popularity, importance and, more precisely, a new arena. Having a basic offensive talent like Lafreniere to build around would be a coup. Heck, she may even have convinced Taylor Hall to stick around, too.
Where does Lafreniere fit in with the Rangers?
Kaplan: He fits in nicely among the six – and let there be no mistake: The expectation is that Lafreniere will be in the opening day lineup and spend the entire season with the big club. (Also, due to CHL rules, he would not be eligible to play in the AHL full time). This Rangers coaching staff already has the project on how to facilitate a teenage novice in lineup, as they did this over the past year with Kakko. Like Kakko, Lafreniere enters with a lot of fanaticism and because of a higher choice, he has a lot more noise.
Lafreniere averaged 2.15 points per game with his new team last season (the highest CHL average since McDavid) and was an MVP of the Junior World Cup. He may have some of the same growing pains that fit the NHL. For Kakko, he was crossing from European ice to North America. For Lafreniere, he will go from being the biggest and most talented boy on the ice every night to being one of the many big, talented guys on the ice. At Rangers, Lafreniere is surrounded by a good new core. Artem Panarin is the main center, and Mika Zibanejad, Kakko, Pavel Buchnevich, Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox and Igor Shesterkin are all 27 years old. The end of the reconstruction is in view, and the window opening is quite bright.
Does this change the trajectory of the Rangers’ 2020-21?
Wyshynski: It does, but not dramatically. Lafreniere joins a Rangers team that is blessed with talent up front, from established stars like Panarin, Zibanejad and Chris Kreider to the next generation of staff such as Kakko and Filip Chytil. Getting him into a rookie deal under a flat wage cap the next two seasons is a source of envy for other clubs and will enable the Rangers to be aggressive in trying to get veteran help in center and defense.
But this is a team that easily builds back into the form of the Cup contender. The Rangers were already ahead of schedule, as an attacking team. Now they are even better. However, a question: Does GM Jeff Gorton regret for Kreider’s submission that no full action for the first four seasons of his seven-year extension now that he has Panar and Lafreniere on the left?
Assuming we have a full season, with 82 games, Lafreniere 2020-21 statistical line will be ________.
Kaplan: 79 games played, 22 goals, 33 assists, 55 points.
Wyshynski: 76 games played, 31 goals, 29 assists, 60 points.