With rumors that Alexis Lafreniere might be trade bait out of New York, insiders (and likely the organization) are quickly making it known that one healthy scratch doesn’t necessarily equate to a team putting a player on the trade block. As per Pierre LeBrun on Insider Trading, teams did check in with the Rangers last week about Alexis Lafrenière, but they were told he’s not being shopped.
This isn’t to say that the Rangers wouldn’t trade the player if an offer came across their desk they couldn’t ignore, but the Rangers have told those teams they still believe in the forward and have told the same to Lafrenière himself. This healthy scratch was more a message that they think he will positively respond to and they hope this will be a good “reset” for him.
LeBrun isn’t the only source reporting that the Rangers are prepared to be patient with Lafreniere. The Athletic’s staff writes that the team has no intention of trading him at this point. Still only 21, the former first-overall pick has struggled but that doesn’t mean he’s a bust. The Rangers are trying to help him find ways to maintain consistency and they know that failure to do so means an affordable second contract with the team. Lafreniere is scheduled to become a restricted free agent without arbitration rights and that could mean an inexpensive deal instead of a bigger second contract that the team might have anticipated for him when he was first drafted. He might even before forced to accept a qualifying offer under $900K for next season if the Rangers don’t see any progression in his production level.
Not to mention, if the Rangers traded him now, it’s unlikely they would get fair value back for the player. It’s not wise asset management to move the forward when he’s at a low point in his short NHL career. Lafreniere is back in the Rangers lineup and has 17 points in 37 games this season.
If he bounces back with a couple of strong performances, this trade chatter should quiet down rather quickly.
Next: Red Wings News and Rumors: Bertuzzi, Fabbri, Vrana
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