Yes, Alexis Lafreniere has not been good this year.
But how does he improve the limited game minutes?
In a game where the New York Rangers needed an attacking spark against the Toronto Maple Leafs (both teams had 23 points on Thursday), Lafreniere played just 13:25 and failed to score a shot into the net. It is the sixth time in the past nine games that Lafreniere has failed to score in a challenging run for the top pick from the 2020 draft.
That’s not what Rangers should get out of their top young striker. But his usage is just odd, to say the least. Lafreniere struggled from the start, scoring just three points in his first seven games despite playing the first six minutes. It didn’t work and Lafreniere found himself playing for less than 15 minutes in the last 10 games.
It’s one way or another about icy times. Perhaps a trip to the Hartford Wolf Pack is arranged. Even if it’s for you
That’s far from ideal for your sophomore, someone expected to be a game changer for a young, growing Rangers team. Lafreniere had just 12 goals and 21 points in 56 games as a rookie last year. He was awarded a free pass, for the most part: he made his NHL after a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Going straight from grassroots to NHL is a challenge, let alone eight months away.
But now he is in his second year and things have not really improved. He has four goals and five points in 17 games, where the youngster proved unable to score in consecutive games.
That lack of success can put unwanted pressure on an inexperienced striker. And that is clear in the play of the 20-year-old.
It’s probably still too early to worry about Lafreniere being a prospect, but it’s time for the whole team to shake things up. Lafreniere’s game at the grassroots is about quality over quantity – shooting effectively, not just mass. For reference: Lafreniere leads the Rangers with a 5 to 5 shot ratio of 22.22. Problem? He’s averaging just 5.37 shots per 60, with more than one shot per game actually at 5v5 this season. The numbers suggest he can score – he doesn’t shoot, and Julien Gauthier and Filip Chytil are unlikely to change that.
Why didn’t he shoot? Good question. But perhaps a trip to the AHL could give him some confidence. The Montreal-Canadian tried that with Cole Caufield, sending him to Laval earlier this month after a lousy start to the season. He’s back now and brought back to the frontline alongside Tyler Toffoli and Nick Suzuki. Canadians were massacred by Pittsburgh on Thursday, but Caufield was one of the few bright spots.
Rangers really need to consider that route for Lafreniere. His only professional experience is a big show, and he has never looked too laid-back or consistent. He’s a great talent, and there’s a reason why many scouts predict Lafreniere will be No. 1 years in advance. There’s still a lot of hope, but there’s no need to just let him wilt in New York’s roster when he’s unable to create an attack.
Give him the necessary chances to survive. Lafreniere is indeed still young. He doesn’t need to be forced into the squad if it doesn’t work. Playing against the NHL can in some cases be more profitable than playing in the AHL, but offensive players need to create an offensive line to be effective. Lafrienre’s defensive game leaves a lot to be desired, and playing in the AHL could allow him to A) score goals and B) carry out his defensive game without hurting the big club.
Scoring against an inferior opponent is playing a more limited role than a better competitor? Depends on who you ask. But when you meet a guy who’s used to placing big numbers, you’ll want to re-ignite that spark.
Even if it’s only for a short time, it might be worth a try. Getting Lafrienere back on track after an unusual career start under unusual circumstances. Lafreniere has faced most of the #1 picks in NHL history just to make his debut, and that’s lackluster. Rangers are a good team and can afford to send Lafreniere down to get the reps he needs to have more impact on a daily basis.
It’s worth a try, isn’t it?
https://thehockeynews.com/news/alexis-lafreniere-might-benefit-from-a-trip-to-the-ahl Alexis Lafreniere May benefit from a trip to AHL