Despite not having much cap space to work with, General Manager Chris Drury and the Rangers were relatively busy in free agency this offseason.
They made some bargain bin moves to increase the depth of the roster, most notably signing veteran winger Blake Wheeler to a one-year deal. They also reached an agreement with RFA K’Andre Miller on a two-year contract extension, keeping him on Broadway for the next few seasons.
One of the lone moves left is to get a deal done with the team’s other RFA Alexis Lafreniere and it appears that could be scratched off the list soon.
The talented young winger told La Presse’s Simon Olivier Lorange while participating in a Pro-Am charity game in Quebec City this week that the two sides are in talks and he’s expecting to get an agreement soon.
“It’s coming. My agent and the Rangers are in discussions, I hope it will be settled in the next few weeks,” he said. “I love playing there. I love the city, the fans, and the arena. It would be super cool to continue.”
The Rangers selected Lafreniere, who was dominating in the QMJHL, with the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. His upside and skillset put some high expectations on the 21-year-old early, and so far, he’s failed to live up to those.
Lafreniere’s shown some positive flashes over the years but he’s been bumped around the Rangers’ lineup and hasn’t seen many top-line or power-play chances. He’s coming off a season in which he recorded 16 goals and 23 assists (39 points) across 81 games.
Lafreniere became a healthy scratch for one game during this past season due to his lack of production. Making his second playoff appearance he was a ghost during the seven-game series against the Devils, not recording a single point.
Over his first three NHL seasons, the former top pick has recorded a total of 91 points (47 goals, 44 assists). While things haven’t quite gone as planned so far, Lafreniere is confident he’ll just keep getting better moving forward.
“You have to be patient, I think it will come,” he said. “I think my game has improved on both ends of the ice. But I would still like to have more offensive production and generate move attack.”
With new head coach Peter Laviolette behind the bench this season, there’s hope that Lafreniere and the rest of the Rangers’ young and developing core will receive more opportunities to shine.
Many have speculated this offseason that his new pact with the team will be a two-year bridge deal similar to Miller’s, but it seems like we’ll see soon enough what the two sides are drawing up.