New York Rangers Hold Alexis Lafreniere Back From World Junior Championship

Alexis Lafreniere
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The New York Rangers will not allow forward Alexis Lafreniere to join Team Canada at the 2021 World Junior Championship, per an announcement from Team Canada on Thursday.

Team Canada to Miss Out On Alexis Lafreniere

Lafreniere, who the New York Rangers drafted first overall in the 2020 NHL draft, has represented Canada twice at the U20 tournament. In 2019-20, he won tournament MVP and helped lead Canada to gold. He scored four goals and six assists for 10 points in just five games played. This was a major improvement upon his tournament the year prior, where he put up just one goal in five games played. 

Lafreniere was a key player to a heavy Canadian roster riddled with first-round picks. His absence will be seriously felt, even on a stacked teaem. During his 2019-20 QMJHL season, Lafreniere posted an incredible 35 goals and 77 assists for 112 points in 52 games. This put him on pace to score 146 points in a full 68 game season. It was also strong enough to make him the CHL MVP for the second season in a row.

Lafreniere’s 2020-21 Campaign

Since he won’t be made available, the left-wing will have his eyes solely set on playing for the New York Rangers now. He is already under contract and is nearly guaranteed to make the NHL lineup. He will attempt to crack the team’s top six and step up immediately in a productive role. 

While he is more than capable of doing so, cracking New York’s top six is no easy feat. At left-wing, the Rangers already have 2020 Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider. If Lafreniere wants to play in the top six, there are realistically two options. The first is for one of Panarin or Kreider to move to the third line, making room for Lafreniere. If this were to happen Kreider would probably be the odd man out. The second option would be for one of Panarin, Lafreniere, or Kreider to move to the right side. Out of the three, Panarin is the only one who shoots right.

Other Absentees

It was also announced that Jack Hughes will not be allowed to join Team USA, per New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald. The presence of Nick Robertson also remains uncertain and entirely based on if the NHL will play soon.

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