Rangers trade deadline hopes altered by improved play of Alexis Lafreniere and Kid Line

Rangers get improved play from Lafreniere
New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) looks to pass as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard falls to the ice in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photos

It’s not an overreaction to say that the top line for the Rangers over the last few weeks has been their youngest trio. 

The Kid Line of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, and Alexis Lafreniere have dominated the ice as of late, and have helped New York continue their dominant run of hockey over the last few months. Yet as the trade deadline draws ever closer, their performance has altered what the Rangers could do to improve their current roster. 

Perhaps no player has changed the way the Blueshirts will operate by the trade deadline than Lafreniere though. For the majority of this season, Lafreniere has struggled to perform up to his first overall status. He has totaled just 23 points and has been one of the more inconsistent players on the Rangers this season. 

That was before the Kid Line was reunited though. 

In the last five games alone, Lafreniere has totaled five points. His game-winning overtime goal Monday night against Calgary concluded what was a four-point night from the kids as a trio. It also showed the improvements both on and off the ice that the young forward has been making. 

“I think everyone is happy for him more than a different guy.” Trouba laughed. “We’d be happy for anyone but especially him. It’s great to see and nice to see him smile and have fun.”

Even New York’s coaching staff has been impressed with Lafreniere’s recent play even if they couldn’t tell if Monday was the best he looked this season. 

“Up there for sure. A huge goal in overtime. He played well. I was happy with his performance.” Gerard Gallant said.

The Rangers have a great problem on their hands. With Lafreniere’s play improving considerably, the likelihood that New York tries to move him becomes slim to none. That also means they will be conceivably out on top players like Timo Meier.

Of course, that’s a great thing to have happen. As a first-overall selection, getting rid of him within his first three years would be a terrible thing for the Rangers and their ability to develop young talent. It also still allows them to be in on players like Vladimir Tarsenko without having to give up the farm. 

As long as Alexis Lafreniere and the kids continue to dominate in the way they’ve done, the Rangers will need to adjust their deadline expectations. While the team certainly needs a top-line winger to pair with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, giving up too much for a rental will be something Chris Drury would look to avoid.  

And it makes it a lot easier when Lafreniere is playing like this. 

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