The New York Rangers have officially secured restricted free agent forward Alexis Lafreniere with a two-year contract, confirming a re-signing that has ignited both hope and ongoing speculation within the NHL community. His new deal falls in at $4.65 million, translating to an average annual value (AAV) of $2.325 million. Despite this commitment, the player’s future with the team remains under the lens of potential trade discussions.
While Lafreniere figured he and the Rangers’ would ultimately get a deal done, acknowledging past seasons may not have met the expectations of being the club’s first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, the team seems to be hedging its bets as the contract term unfolds. The Rangers are investing in Lafreniere’s development and hopeful he takes a production jump, but they’re also keeping the door open for strategic moves, according to insights from an NHL insider.
During the latest episode of 32 Thoughts The Podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delves into Lafreniere’s situation, revealing that the young talent faces a pivotal season to prove his mettle in New York. He explained:
“Everybody is kind of in a position where they’re saying, look, we’re going to try this under a new coach, see where it goes… if it’s not good next summer then I think you can move him at a number that I think teams can handle because I just think if it’s another year likes this they’re probably going to have to move on…To me it’s a 2-yr deal, but it’s a 1-yr deal in New York and then we will see”.
In other words, Lafreniere is going to get the opportunity to prove himself, but the Rangers aren’t shy about pulling the trigger on a trade if they feel one is warranted.
Lafreniere’s Situation Will Be Closely Monitored by Other Teams
This insight underscores the dynamic nature of Lafreniere’s tenure with the Rangers, with both parties anticipating a transformative season. If one doesn’t come, the team could be poised to part ways with the player at a manageable price point and there will be other clubs keenly interested in how this all unfolds.
The Montreal Canadiens have been linked to Lafreniere in the past and with a new deal in hand, one the Canadiens might find attractive, you can bet GM Kent Hughes will monitor the forward’s progress.
As Lafreniere takes to the ice under the guidance of a new coach, he’s got a lot to prove. This new deal only increases the pressure because he now has a tradeable contract with a team that isn’t afraid to make deals and might look down the line this season at finding room for a name like Patrick Kane.
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