Alexis Lafreniere has signed his new deal as a New York Ranger as the former first overall pick was just extended by Chris Drury and the Blueshirts management core. Lafreniere’s extension will carry an average annual value of $2.325 million for the next two seasons. This deal is a modern version of Kaapo Kakko’s bridge deal, with the idea of giving the players a chance to prove themselves before paying them long-term.
This works for the Rangers because the current cap predicament that the organization is in will be relieved by the cap increase over the next few seasons after it had been stunted by the Coronavirus pandemic. If Lafreniere breaks out, this deal will be a steal for the duration of it. There will be more pressure on the player now that he is not on his entry-level contract.
What’s perhaps most annoying about Lafreniere is that he’s shown flashes of being the dominant force he was in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when he was one of the best prospects we’ve seen since Connor McDavid. He’s not lived up to that hype and pressure yet, but he’s improved. Perhaps a new coach in Peter Laviolette will finally have the key to unlocking the limitless potential of the Quebecois winger.
As for the Rangers cap situation, this forces them into an awkward situation. They’re not a little more than $50,000 over the cap when carrying a 23-man roster. While it would be possible to carry a 22-man roster for the start of the season and wait until the team accrues enough cap space to bring one of the AHL bodies up, it could force the organization into a hole early in the season if there are injuries.
This deal, as a whole, is very good for the Rangers. There’s no risk and all the possible rewards in the world. If Lafreniere can figure out how to be the player he was before he was drafted into the NHL, this Rangers roster is going to be among the best in the NHL.