In a recent episode of the 32 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman revealed that the New York Rangers will pursue bridge deals with both K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafrenière. But, given the ongoing contract situation for the New York Rangers and the delay it appears the team is experiencing while trying to get these two players locked up to new deals, trade whispers are out there, particularly when it comes to Lafrenière.
While the Rangers grapple with their contract negotiations, rumors have surfaced regarding a potential Lafrenière deal. The young forward, who was selected first overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, has yet to meet the lofty expectations set for him. Lafrenière has performed adequately — amassing 47 goals and 91 points over 216 NHL games — however, his name has become entangled in trade speculation, with the Montreal Canadiens frequently mentioned as a possible destination.
In a recent article for Bleacher Report, author Lyle Fitzsimmons writes, “Buy, Buy, Buy,” when it comes to believing the connection between the Canadiens and Rangers. He adds, “There are no-brainers. And then there are no-brainers.”
Lafrenière recently completed his three-year entry-level contract and is due to receive a qualifying offer in the vicinity of $900,000 as a restricted free agent. Given the historically impatient nature of the New York fan base, it is not surprising that there are discussions about the Rangers potentially parting ways with him. All that said, in a July 1 article for The Athletic, Arthur Staple claimed that sources indicated Drury had quietly explored trade possibilities involving Lafrenière. Even Staple updated the article to note that the Rangers have reportedly informed other teams that they plan to retain Lafrenière, signaling a change in their stance.
The update came after Rangers General Manager Chris Drury adamantly refuted a report from Staple stating, “There could be nothing further from the truth than that. I have not talked to one GM about Alexis… A completely false report.” He used even more colorful language to relay his disappointment in false rumors making their way around the NHL marketplace. It was clear Drury was trying to put those rumors to bed.
The Canadiens Do Make Sense If the Stance Changes Again
Still, trade chatter isn’t necessarily going away. The Montreal Canadiens could be a suitable landing spot and considering they are Canada’s French-speaking province and would have been interested in Lafrenière dating back to his draft year, the team has a reputation for embracing players who fit well within their culture. It is difficult to envision a better situation for a young player like Lafrenière, who is still only 21 years old, to rebuild his confidence and rediscover his productivity than by joining the team he rooted for as a child.
As the situation unfolds, hockey enthusiasts will continue to keep a close eye on Lafrenière’s future and whether any developments arise regarding a potential trade or a new contract with the New York Rangers. The Canadiens are the team to watch here and at least one writer thinks the odds are extremely high that this gets done.
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