For the first time in 55 years, the New York Rangers have the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft, which will be held Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
There won’t be much drama in their selection.
After general manager, Jeff Gorton said last week that the Blueshirts will be keeping their pick rather than deal it in some unforeseen, hypothetical blockbuster, the path is officially clear to draft the overwhelming top prospect in the 2020 draft class, winger Alexis Lafreniere.
The 18-year-old Canadian has lit up draft boards and highlight reels over the last three seasons with Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) — posting gaudy numbers in dominant displays:
- 2017-18 (age 16): 60 games, 42 goals, 38 assists, 80 points
- 2018-19 (age 17): 61 games, 37 goals, 68 assists, 105 points
- 2019-20 (age 18): 52 games, 35 goals, 77 assists, 112 points
Lafreniere also starred for the Canadian national team at the under-20 world championships earlier this year posting 10 points (4 G, 6 A) in five games.
This is a young player with an incredible set of hands and plus vision that will break down opposing defenses with relative ease once he finds his groove in the NHL.
As a facilitator, he could become a top-end playmaker in the league while his ability to drive to the net and score goals in the dirty areas provides the promise of one of the most well-rounded offensive prospects in recent memory.
That being said, it’s important to note that Lafreniere is not entering the NHL with such lofty expectations that compare him to Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid — two of the most transcendental draft prospects in league history. However, this is a player who can become a perennial All-Star.
NHL Central Scouting compared his game most closely to Florida Panthers star Jonathan Huberdeau, who isn’t necessarily a household name for the casual NHL fan, but he’s one of the top playmaking forwards in the game having averaged well over a point per game since the start of the 2018-19 season.
Rangers fans shouldn’t have to wait long to see him take the ice in the NHL despite his young age. He is widely regarded as a complete NHL player already and is expected to be inserted on the Rangers’ third line with Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin inhabiting the top-two left-wing spots.