Should the Rangers trade the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL draft?


The worst factor about the New York Rangers winning the Alexis Lafrenière draft lottery is how their followers are going to completely mangle his identify.

My father grew up in the metropolis. His first try at a pronunciation was “Lufthansa.” The Canadian hamlet of Saint-Eustache produced an beautiful French Canadian moniker — Alexis Lafrenière. On the tongues of New Yawkers, it is going to sound like a Claude Debussy suite carried out by an orchestra of accordions.

The second worst factor about the Rangers profitable the Lafrenière draft lottery is that he isn’t a middle. He’s one among the most gifted left wings at the prime of the draft board in years, however not that foundational middle — suppose Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel — for whom groups tank their seasons.

For the Rangers, that’s a real bummer, positionally speaking. They might use an elite middle prospect. Mika Zibanejad is improbable. Filip Chytil remains to be solely 20 however is not on that elite stage of prospect. Although Chris Peters, ESPN’s prospects guru, ranked the Rangers’ farm system No. 1 heading into this season, he did not have a middle prospect ranked in their prime 10. And they’re stable on left wing, with Artemi Panarin on their prime line and Chris Kreider signed to a brand new seven-year contract with 4 years of no-movement clause.

“Centermen are really hard to find,” Rangers president John Davidson instructed me on this week’s ESPN On Ice podcast.

Actually, you do not have to look onerous to seek out one in this draft, and never simply because he is 6-foot-Four and 215 kilos: Quinton Byfield, 17, of Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League, is cited by many as the second-best prospect behind Lafrenière, 18.

How shut is it between them? I requested three consultants in the realm of NHL prospects for his or her opinions, on background.

Expert No. 1: “Great question. There’s a gap between the two, no doubt, but I still don’t think it’s as big as some make it since ‘Q’ is almost a full year younger than Lafrenière.”

Expert No. 2: “It’s a significant gap right now, because Lafrenière is NHL-ready, while the appeal with Byfield is his ceiling. Byfield still has work to do, so there is a little bit of risk, while Lafrenière is plug-and-play.”

Expert No. 3: “I don’t think the gap is terribly large. I think Lafrenière is the best available option and the safest pick for landing a superstar. Byfield has super-high upside with enough questions to wonder.”

Interesting. Even extra fascinating: The crew with the second-deepest prospect pool, per Peters, is the Los Angeles Kings, they usually maintain the No. 2 pick. So in the event that they coveted Lafrenière … and the Rangers needed a middle … might they do enterprise?

Of course, holding the first pick means you do not even should dabble in prospects should you do not wish to. If you are the Rangers, buying and selling Lafrenière might get you a extra confirmed commodity at middle in addition to assistance on protection, each of which the crew wants in its rebuild greater than it wants one other left wing. And they might most likely scare up a bidding battle, contemplating the rarity of the No. 1 pick transferring — it hasn’t occurred since 2003 in the NHL, when the Panthers traded picks No. 1 (used on Marc-Andre Fleury) and No. 73 (Daniel Carcillo) for No. 3 (Nathan Horton), No. 55 (Stefan Meyer) and Mikael Samuelsson.

So should you’re the Rangers, why not trade that prime pick?

“You know, we just got the pick. The dust hasn’t even settled,” Davidson mentioned. “I know people are excited here in New York. They’ve got a lot of calls downtown about getting season tickets. It’s been very good, that part of the business.”

I’m not listening to a “no” right here.

Davidson introduced up the 2007 NHL draft in Columbus, when he was crew president of the St. Louis Blues.

“We, amongst other teams, had talked to Chicago. They had the No. 1 pick. We made a significant offer. The Blackhawks, led by Dale Tallon, said no. ‘We’re sticking at No. 1, and that’s that,'” he recalled.

“Well, Patrick Kane was a pretty good pick. So these types of things … somebody would have to blow the socks, the shoes and everything right off your feet if you’re ever going change for something like that. So we’re excited where we are. We have the No. 1 pick. It’s a great time for us. We’ll just see where everything goes.”

Yeah, I’m nonetheless not listening to a “no,” JD.

But simply because one thing is feasible doesn’t suggest it is the proper choice. So I turned again to our nameless panel and requested whether or not they would trade the No. 1 pick, have been they the Rangers?

Expert No. 1: “Would I trade the pick? Nope. You get a top-six guy for three years at a reasonable number.”

Expert No. 2: “I’d keep the pick if I was the Rangers.”

Expert No. 3: “I think the package would have to be substantial to move the pick since Lafrenière is such an immediate impact guy. Rangers certainly dealing from a position of strength but if I had Panarin-Lafrenière 1-2 for a few years, I’m sitting pretty good.”

OK, so not a whole lot of help for my “maybe trade the pick” marketing campaign. That is sensible. Alexis Lafrenière is a particular participant, and profitable the lottery is a particular second. If the Rangers want to seek out that elusive middle in the years after Lafrenière arrives on Broadway, it is not as if they will not have a treasure chest from which to withdraw.

“What you try to do in this business,” Davidson instructed me, “is you build up assets, and when you have good, real strong depth with your assets, maybe a deal can be made down the road.”

For now, Alexis Lafrenière. Later, a No. 1 middle and assistance on protection, so as to add to Panarin, Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba

… I, for one, welcome our new hockey overlords.

Jersey Fouls

From Su Ring:

The General Manager Jersey Foul is at all times an fascinating one. On the floor, honoring an govt on a jersey is a minor offense. But the drawback right here is the No. 10. First, there is perhaps an incredible No. 10 on the Kraken — *cough* Brayden Schenn *cough* — whose quantity is now tied to the basic supervisor in your again. But extra importantly, Ron Francis has a quantity with the Kraken: No. 32, as in the 32nd crew, which was on the jersey that was presented to him at his unveiling. Go with that. FYI: We’ve seen just a few in which a greenback signal or a Stanley Cup was positioned the place a quantity would go. Those are Fouls — however factors for creativity.

1. Listening to the Maple Leafs’ postseason media conferences this week, I needed to double-check that they weren’t utilizing the Washington Capitals‘ scripts from 2009 to 2017 and simply altering the names.

It’s the identical vibe: not realizing the way to play to win in the playoffs; questioning if the supporting forged round a core of stars is sweet sufficient to win whereas asking if that core must be damaged up; dissecting playoff disappointments towards archrivals and random groups that take them out. Really, the solely factor lacking was somebody speculating about whether or not Auston Matthews is pleased simply scoring targets and if he would possibly go away for the KHL if issues do not flip round — you recognize, basic Alex Ovechkin stuff.

The lesson from the Capitals is an easy one: Patience plus pruning equals a championship. Matthews has been in the league for 4 seasons. Three of the Leafs’ prime 4 scorers are 23 or youthful, and the fourth (John Tavares) is simply turning 30. The Leafs have time to work this out, however there’s additionally room for them to change that core. When the Capitals lastly raised the Stanley Cup, that they had three core gamers left from the daybreak of the Ovechkin Era: Ovi, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson. Others, similar to Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Karl Alzner, had been jettisoned. (Braden Holtby and Evgeny Kuznetsov have been added to the core alongside the approach.)

You should each keep the course, assured that issues will click on into place as your stars mature, and be fearless in smashing a few of your favourite toys. The neatest thing GM Kyle Dubas mentioned this week: “You all think I have one way of going about things and that it’s never changing,” he mentioned, “[but] the vision for me is always changing.”

2. Kyle Dubas was employed as Leafs GM in May 2018, and he inherited a crew that Lou Lamoriello had capped out with contracts together with the 35-year-old-plus free-agent deal he handed Patrick Marleau and the seven-year deal he clasped to defensive albatross Nikita Zaitsev. Dubas needed to make these go away final summer time in order to present his greatest younger gamers new, elephantine contracts. He spent portion of his first two seasons cleansing up outdated messes whereas having to pay two franchise pillars. That’s a whole lot of enterprise that’s now settled. Plus, as Elliotte Friedman noted this week, the Leafs have a bit of extra cap flexibility than many assume. Dubas deserves various months to type it out.

I like to present basic managers both 5 years or three main indefensible participant transactions earlier than they’re turfed, whichever comes first. The Nazem Kadri-for-Tyson Barrie catastrophe was Dubas’ first strike, nevertheless it’s in any other case shaping as much as be an extended at-bat. Again, the phrase is endurance. The notion that Dubas must be fired if the Leafs lose one other “win or go home” playoff sport subsequent season is strictly for the most loyal Mark Hunter fans.

3. I requested a revered NHL insider the way to repair the Leafs after they have been eradicated, and the reply was “JAM, up front.” Team president Brendan Shanahan echoed the sentiment when requested if there’s sufficient Ryan O’Reilly-esque toughness on the roster or if the crew must go looking for some. “A bit of both. We all talk about it. It’s people growing into it. I do believe you can develop grit. A lot of players who were accused of being too soft to win suddenly won and changed the narrative for themselves,” he mentioned. “That can develop. But I also think that compete level and grit are areas that we might need to help our team a little bit with.”

To return to the Capitals instance, the 2018 Stanley Cup crew had a core of homegrown stars. Then T.J. Oshie joined the social gathering in 2015. Lars Eller, Matt Niskanen, Alex Chiasson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Brett Connolly and particularly Brooks Orpik have been all imported from elsewhere. Toronto’s younger star gamers will determine this playoff factor out. But I’d argue that it does not matter should you increase them with the totally different forms of “JAM” down the lineup that both have received or play a method that will get you wins in the postseason. [Homer Simpson drool voice:] “Mmmmm, imported jam …”

Listen to ESPN On Ice

New York Rangers president John Davidson joined us to speak about winning the draft lottery days after being eradicated from the postseason and what comes subsequent. Sarah McLellan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune joined us to speak about what it was prefer to cowl the NHL inside the bubble. Plus, we have now Stanley Cup playoff discuss and way more on the Leafs, Penguins and Panthers! Listen, subscribe and review here.

Winners and losers of the week

Winner: Seth Jones

Skating 65:06 in a five-overtime game is the form of factor that turns a star right into a supernova. Prediction: If Seth Jones performs no less than 75 video games, scores no less than 50 factors and finishes as a plus participant subsequent season, he’ll get a Norris Trophy nomination.

Loser: Mitch Marner

Marner’s contentious contract negotiation with the Maple Leafs at all times had the potential to poison the nicely for him with followers. It is not onerous to see that as an element in the response to his brutal postseason: three assists in a stirring Game Four win, however one help in the different 4 video games towards Columbus. Marner criticized his personal sport, saying that in Game 1 he did not suppose he “was engaged with physical-ness at all.” Later, GM Kyle Dubas felt compelled to talk up for the maligned Marner: “I don’t know where this all started, with the criticizing of Mitch Marner, but to me, it’s among the most idiotic things that I see done here.”

Winner: New voices

It’s very cool to see some range amongst the voices speaking about the sport. The NHL brought on the Soul On Ice podcast with Kwame Damon Mason, Akil Thomas and Elijah Roberts lately, which is a big platform for an already compelling present. Meanwhile, NBC has given Anson Carter a brand new present known as “Hockey Culture” on YouTube. The newest episode options Arizona Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez.

Loser: The CN Tower

This immediate basic from Mike Milbury was notable for apparently being taken with a Motorola flip cellphone from 1997 — and for mislabeling Toronto’s CN Tower as “The Space Needle.” In equity to Milbury, in all places from Japan to China to Russia to Malaysia to New Zealand has its personal Needle-esque tower. If this tweet was meant to point that such towers are a dime a dozen, we help it.

Winner: Conspiracy theories

I can not thank that dude from Ernst and Young sufficient for dropping the Rangers’ ball moments earlier than that very same ball was sucked up the lottery tube to ship the first general pick to the Rangers. Outlandish conspiracy theories often take days to stand up from Reddit like foot odor earlier than reaching the mainstream. This was like the Big Bang, born immediately from nothing and lasting infinitely. What a blessing.

Loser: NHL GMs

Hey, congrats: After their whining about the draft lottery (and the draft) being held earlier than the season restart, there was a 50% probability that Alexis Lafrenière would find yourself with a playoff-bound crew (below regular circumstances). The infinitesimal probability that one crew might win the lottery and the Stanley Cup practically gave Edmonton one more first general pick and Connor McDavid the winger he wants for the subsequent 15 years of an Oilers dynasty. Thank the hockey gods {that a} crew that wasn’t in playoff place at the pause ended up profitable.

Winner: Flow

The NHL employed the Minnesota State High School All-Hockey Hair Team man, John King, to critique the salad and the equipment inside the bubble, together with a pink Panthers suitcase. On Oshie’s hair: “We think it’s natural. But there might be some hand sanitizer mixed in there.” (Warning: You should get previous a really horrible track known as “Bubble Drip” to get to the good things.)

Losers: 50-year-olds who aren’t Rod Brind’Amour

The Carolina Hurricanes coach simply turned 50 years outdated and has the physique of a barely extra in form Thanos. Welp, time for one more pint of ice cream …

Puck headlines

Rod Brind’Amour, not happy with the officiating in Game 1. “This is why the league’s a joke, in my opinion, on these things,” Brind’Amour instructed The News & Observer. “That one is a crime scene.” He was fined $25,000.

The Colorado Avalanche had a “doctor’s note” signed by players to get individuals out of labor to look at afternoon hockey.

Love this: The St. Louis Blues are having mini-parades around town in order that followers can come out and help the crew in the playoffs.

Shane Doan is selling his $2.4 million horse ranch.

Golfer Mike Weir improved his sport with a hockey-inspired drill.

Picking the winners of the quarterfinals based on their jersey designs.

The Ice Garden has began a brand new “Beginners’ Guide To Women’s Hockey” function that is value trying out.

What was it like for Gord Miller to do that five-overtime game? “I really enjoyed (Tuesday night). It was a great time. I think one of the best things about hockey is the overtime. The NHL’s playoff overtime is great because you never know when the moment is going to come. It could be right now, or it could be an hour from now. So you’re constantly waiting for that moment to come. I loved it.”

In case you missed this from your mates at ESPN

I actually loved with the ability to write this story about how the NHL created synthetic crowd noise for games and chatting with the man pushing the buttons in Edmonton.

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