The former first-overall pick has a chance to prove many wrong this upcoming season. Here’s why “The Alexis Lafrenière Show” is a must-watch.
When newly named head coach Peter Laviolette was given the keys to Madison Square Garden, he found a team with an established identity. The team is dominant on the man advantage. Also, has a world-class goaltender between the pipes. With that, comes a few young forwards looking to quiet the naysayers through offensive production.
One of those youngsters is Alexis Lafrenière. He is searching for the ceiling the Rangers’ fans expected when the team drafted him first overall in 2020. The 2023-24 season is the ultimate “make or break” year for #13 in blue. Although Lafrenière is receiving a great deal of hate and jeers, the best has yet to come.
It’s Now Or Never For Alexis Lafrenière
New York City reeks with passion from all who either call it “work” or “home”. Here lies your next Broadway stars, itching for that chance to see their name lit up on a marquee. Day in and day out, they rehearse to hit that perfect note or routine that just might jumpstart their career.
The same can be said about its athletes who play in a city filled with diehard fans who eat, sleep, and breathe their teams. Alexis Lafrenière and the New York Rangers fall perfectly into this scenario. It is safe to say that the former Rimouski Oceanic player has not lived up to the hype. Yet not everyone can be Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, or Sidney Crosby. It takes a longer amount of time for players to find their stride, especially in New York.
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) August 23, 2023
Lafrenière has fallen victim to a lot of negativities surrounding his offensive production over the last few seasons. Sure, his goal tally can be slightly higher but it’s not just him. If Lafrenière was taken somewhere between 10-31 in the 2020 draft (Kraken not yet established), this hate would be nonexistent. 2023 is the perfect time for the Quebec-native to quiet the haters and here are three reasons why he can do just that.
His Intelligence and Strength Go A Long Way
Throughout his tenure in New York thus far, Lafrenière would either be so quiet or surprise you with a skill move or two. Two key attributes in his arsenal that have led to some success are his intelligence and his power both on and off the puck. It is almost as if he knows what to do with the puck before it hits his tape. The understanding from past seasons was that Lafrenière is a great teammate and adapts well with whomever he gets paired with.
The most underrated attribute within Lafrenière’s game is his strength. Not only is he not afraid to throw the body, but it can be difficult to take the puck away from him. We’ve seen him irritate some foes from time to time, he’s also not afraid to drop the mitts. These are two aspects that he must not lose if he is going to find longing triumph in The Big Apple.
Keeping Him With Filip Chytil Is A Must
No matter what line Lafrenière is on for the start of the season, he should be playing alongside Filip Chytil. The two of them with Kaapo Kid established “The Kid Line” which was arguably one of the best third lines in the entire National Hockey League. It is inevitable that Kakko will be sliding up into the top six, leaving questions to be answered regarding Chytil and Lafrenière.
ZERO HESITATION. ALEXIS LAFRENIERE. pic.twitter.com/R1u4yADQPA
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 2, 2023
Personally, these two should stay together on either the second or third line. I do not hate the idea of eventually dropping Chris Kreider and Vincent Trocheck to the third line. Both young forwards reek of potential, and it is only fair to keep these two promising stars for the foreseeable future.
Let’s Not Forget That He’s Still A Kid
Yes, this season will mark 30 years since New York last won the Stanley Cup. However, everyone should just take a deep breath and relax for a second. Be thankful that hockey is right around the corner. Why waste your breath with criticism? Believe it or not, the Rangers’ lack of success is not all on Alexis Lafrenière.
He is a 21-year-old kid trying to make it in the hockey world on one of the grandest stages of them all. Yes, there will be some haters out there, but I, for one, still see a decent career ahead for Lafrenière. Sure, he might not have consecutive multipoint games, but he shows heart and that is something Laviolette cannot teach. Ranger fans should be lucky to have a player and a teammate like Alexis Lafrenière on their roster.
Main Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports