The waiting is over! The New York Rangers have selected first Overall, Alexis Lafreniere in the 2020 NHL draft.
After being eliminated in the play-in-round by the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Rangers future was unknown. However, with an incredible stroke of luck, the New York Ranger won the draft lottery by being given the opportunity to draft the first overall pick. In previous drafts, there was a sense of uncertainty when drafting first overall. For the New York Rangers, it was a no-doubter. Many have compared Lafreniere’s style of play to Sydney Crosby. Much like Crosby, he was the only other player to win the MVP award twice during his time in the QMJHL. One of the most important factors Lafreniere carries with him is his desire to win. This is a kid who was the captain of his team for Rimouski Oceanic and knows how to win.
After being injured with a leg injury in the U20 World Juniors for Team Canada, many told him to pack it up and preserve his NHL draft condition, which is exactly what Lafreniere did not do. He made a speedy recovery and returned to team Canada to help them win the Gold. He is a competitor on the highest platform and is ready to make the jump to the NHL. Also, He is one of the oldest players in his draft class. Which further supports my reasoning for his unveiling in the City that never sleeps. The realization that Lafreniere will be working with Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, Mika Zibanajad, and many more talented Rangers is exhilarating.
Lafreniere will be surrounded by young players like himself, veterans like Zibanejad, and superb coaching staff. Not to mention the breathtaking energy brought by the fans in Madison Square Garden. All in all, the environment is perfect for this young kid to succeed. Now, it’s up to him!
After trading up to get the 19th overall pick from Calgary, the New York Rangers selected Braden Schneider. What a great selection this could prove to be. Many are hating on Jeff Gorton for selecting yet another defenseman instead of a centerman. One can speculate that with this defensive selection, the Ranger will trade for a center. Regardless of what they do to fill the centerman spot, Braden Schneider is still a great selection with everything the Rangers need. Some say he is one of the most physical players in the draft. Keep in mind he was only a few days late from being drafted last year. Meaning he is one of the oldest in this draft class. When I watch this kid’s highlights, I immediately think of him as a cross between Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox.
How is he different?
Schneider, as I mentioned before, can throw the body around. He stands at 6’2” and weighs 210 lbs. This could be a significant factor when competing against other prospects in the Rangers system like Nils Lundkvist and Zac Jones. Who both are under 6 foot, and both weigh less than 180 lbs. The reason this was a smart pick is that you know what you’re going to get out of him. In recent interviews, Schneider said in his early stages of hockey. He spent the time to focus on being the best he can in the defensive zone. Once he mastered that, he started transitioning into a two-way player by working on his offensive abilities.
An Old School defenseman
This past season for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, he almost doubled his points from the year before. Tallying 42 points in 60 games. I will go as far as to say that he is one of the only defensive prospects that are genuinely lock down defenseman. His hard hits, great stick, and crisp outlet passes make him pristine in his defensive zone. Not to mention, many coaches say his excellent positioning is very beneficial on the power play, something the Rangers desperately need with the deterioration of defensive minded defenseman left in the game. Schneider would offer great depth in the lineup because he’s one of the few defensemen left in the NHL who aren’t primarily focused on offense. His bully-like attitude on the ice and desire to perform well off the ice is a significant factor when earning a roster spot.
With that being said, in the next couple of ayears, I expect this kid to make the turn to the NHL, bringing with him a freshness to the league, with his old school defensive style of play.