Delve into the intriguing story of Alexis Lafreniere’s journey, expectations, and potential impact on the New York Rangers.
Alexis Lafreniere’s preseason performance hasn’t exactly set the ice on fire. He’s been about as noticeable as a snowflake in a blizzard. And no, that’s not how you want your former first-overall pick to look like during training camp.
Even the Goliath on ice, Matt Rempe, a sixth-round pick from 2020, made a bigger impression before being shipped off to Hartford.
The Rangers want Lafreniere to succeed. They’re practically rolling out the red carpet, hoping he’ll claim that top-six spot alongside Mika Zibanejad. And they need him to.
The Expectations, Challenges, and Hopes Surrounding Lafreniere’s Upcoming Season:
So, what’s the plan if Lafreniere doesn’t step up? Well, it might mean the 37-year-old Blake Wheeler has to step in. That’s like asking your grandpa to join the kids’ game. No offense to Wheeler or grandpas out there, but you get the reference. The Blueshirts need their kids shining in order to succeed.
According to Larry Brooks, Lafreniere’s pre-camp test results were fine, so it’s not about slacking off. Yet his preseason performance? It was something to forget.
He only had an assist to show for his efforts in the four games he’s played in. Yet it’s not like he’s been great away from the scoresheet. His defensive struggles was part of the reason why the Blueshirts were in a quick 3-0 hole against the Islanders Saturday.
For those who are asking about sending him down, Lafreniere would have to clear waivers. He would be free for any of the other 31 teams to grab. Considering how many phone calls Chris Drury received in the Summer regarding the 20-year-old makes it unlikely they’ll go that route.
There’s no doubt the kid is feeling the pressure.
Lafreniere needs to shake off that frustration, anger, and disappointment he’s been carrying for three years. He was the 2020 lottery prize, and he’s got big shoes to fill with that draft class. Meanwhile, he’s on a two-year contract worth $2.325 million annually while others from his group are swimming in money.
Tim Stutzle (Third overall, Ottawa Senators) is sipping his coffee, thinking about his eight-year deal worth $8.35 million per season. His teammate Jake Sanderson (Fifth overall) is probably counting down the days until next year when his eight-year extension at $8.05 million per season kicks in.
However, Rangers don’t need a Lafreniere-sized migraine; they need him to breathe, perform, and prove why he was worth that top pick. So, Alexis, it’s time to take a deep breath and let your game do the talking. Just breathe.