Alexis Lafreniere has been the subject of much scrutiny throughout the preseason. He never looked like he was working hard to sustain his roster spot in the face of change. Some fans started to grow weary of the lack of effort from the former projected superstar. Lackadaisical defensive performances had left a bitter taste in the mouth of the fan base, but the former first-overall pick responded to his critics with a strong performance in the New York Rangers’ opening game.
Lafreniere had a goal tonight off a simple net drive. It was straightforward in the end, following the basics and grabbing the New York Rangers’ first goal of the new campaign. It’s not a complicated matter. Go to the front of the net, and good things happen. We’re taught this at a young age. “Bodies in front” and “pucks on net” are among two of the most used cliches in hockey, so to see Lafreniere doing the basics well is a good sign.
If Laffy is going to pick this season to remember that he was supposed to be one of the best players in the league coming out of the draft, that’s going to make life a lot easier for Peter Laviolette and his coaching staff. The Quebecois winger was supposed to be a dominant force coming out of the QMJHL and was labeled as the best prospect we’ve seen since McDavid.
Even if we see Lafreniere get 60 points this year, that could be enough to make the Rangers roster that much better. There’s no denying that if everything goes right for this roster, they can be one of the best in the league. However, the crucial cog for this is Lafreniere. He’s the depth piece that has to break out, and if Peter Laviolette can awaken the beast within this player, this Rangers roster suddenly becomes overwhelming to try and combat.